Breck looks to other towns for Main Street redesign ideas
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge town officials garnered more than a few good ideas about Main Street designs during a recent two-day field trip to various Front Range cities.Their goal was to look at how other cities have addressed such things as wayfinding, pedestrian crossings, street furniture, art and landscaping. Town officials then plan to utilize some of the better ideas when they redesign Main Street to make it more pedestrian friendly and ultimately, encourage visitors to open their wallets a little wider.Town planner Chris Neubecker outlined their findings in a PowerPoint presentation at last week’s town council meeting.The group spent an entire day in Boulder, where they saw numerous examples of street elements they might incorporate in Breckenirdge.Examples included the bold signs along the Pearl Street Mall that make it easy to find one’s way around, art that is well-integrated into the mall design, information kiosks, public restrooms – complete with classical music piped in – an abundance of bike trails, interpretive signs that explain the history of the city, flashing lights at crosswalks, shade structures and colorful banners. Then they were off to Lafayette, which, like Breckenridge, is a small city that’s experienced a lot of growth in recent years.Breckenridge town officials said they liked the vibrancy created by outdoor seating cafes and the stamped asphalt crosswalks that make it obvious to pedestrians and drivers where people will be crossing the road.Breckenridge is considering implementing “bulb-outs” – street corners that jut out into the roadway so drivers can see pedestrians. While they’ve worked well in many Front Range cities, Neubecker said, they could present challenges to snowplow drivers in Breckenridge.The group also visited Longmont, which also is a small city with a state highway running through it.That town has incorporated mid-block pedestrian crossings – another element Breckenridge is considering – inviting alleyways that lead to parking behind the buildings, public art, brick sidewalks and planters whose flowers offer lots of color.Some of the downfalls, however, included signs that read “Catch the Spirit” but didn’t offer much information about the city or how to get around. Longmont officials also said they missed the chance to install electrical and water infrastructure in some of the plaza areas for special events.One of the things Breckenridge officials found appealing was that businesses had their addresses stamped into the sidewalk, the corners were flared out like oversized handicapped ramps and a modest hump in the center of the street served as a viable median.Longmont officials said they’d learned that pedestrians using benches much preferred facing the street and not the sidewalk – and would even go to the extent of unbolting the benches to turn them around.The group visited Estes Park, a vibrant town that serves as the gate to Rocky Mountain National Park.Some of the elements the Breckenridge group liked about that town was the amphitheater near the river, accents on the edge of the sidewalk, water fountains and that business owners have made improvements to the rear facades of buildings, making them more inviting to visitors.They also visited Prospect New Town, a neo-traditional neighborhood in Longmont that features small lots, alleys and on-street parking. The architecture there, however, “started traditional and went funky,” Neubecker said. As an example, he noted that one house might be more modern with jaunty angles and round false front rooflines and next door would be a quaint Victorian home with a porch and gated front yard.Breckenridge town officials will meet with consultants next month and review past studies. They hope to have designs to present to the public early next year and develop conceptual plans for the redesign of Main Street by spring. Construction is slated for 2006.Jane Stebbins can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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