Sunday, February 12, 2017

Urbanism updates: Northwest side and 8th Av SW

The Flamingo Restaurant on Ellis Boulevard: Better days ahead?
City development staff have held two public presentations this month, on the Northwest Neighborhood plan and the 8th Avenue SW project.

The Northwest Neighborhood, though dealing with economic change and the 2008 flood, remains a vibrant community of small homes dating from its heyday as a home for working class families. Homes remain west of Ellis Boulevard (yellow on the map above); the area between Ellis and the river (green on the map) was particularly hard-hit by the flood...

The city bought and demolished the vast proportion of the houses there, and plans a series of riverfront attractions as well as flood protection.

Once flood protection is in place, the city hopes to attract infill housing of various types along and south of Ellis. With enough population around, Ellis itself can again become a thriving commercial area. Some of the residents who were present at the meeting at St. James United Methodist Church recalled walking to the A&W (now closed), the Flamingo Restaurant (now open one night a week as an events center) and other attractions.

Bicycle routes and bus lines will link the neighborhood to the rest of the city, and the rest of the city to the greenway.

8th Avenue SW is due for resurfacing and sewer replacement, which is mostly routine (albeit not if your house is near where they'll be working). City officials announced a couple of new features of general interest. The first is a sidewalk along the north side of the street, which serves Veterans Memorial Stadium, tennis courts, Trinity Lutheran School and Cleveland Park, as well as many residences.

The sidewalk is an important addition. Although it's across the street from the ball park, people walking to the stadium are now "hung out to dry" while they wait to cross 8th. The new sidewalk will give the a place to stand, and the bumpouts will give them a clearer shot across the street. The representative from Trinity Lutheran School suggested that parents parking on the street for school events will have an easier time getting to the school along the sidewalk. There was no resident opposition, in large part because the city plans to stop dunning homeowners for the cost of installing new sidewalks. This is a very favorable development. Sidewalks, like streets--maybe moreso?--benefit the entire city, and should be funded accordingly.

The city also plans a stormwater detention facility at the intersection of 8th and Rockford Road.
At present eastbound through traffic on 8th curves to the right as they approach Rockford, but an offshoot is used by people turning left onto Rockford. This creates a triangle which is currently just grass. The city plans to close part of the offshoot, and to design catch basins in the green space.

Next to me at the meeting were an adorable woman and her even-more-adorable mother, who live next door to each other in the 1500 block of 8th and who have lived in the neighborhood for decades. The woman asked the guy from the city if it wouldn't be nice to have a rain garden in the space. He asked, with some irony, if she wanted to maintain it. She said, with utterly no irony, that she and her mother did indeed want to maintain it. So they took her name and number, and this may well happen. Every now and again, the human race makes your day!

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