How to fix Breck’s Main Street?
BRECKENRIDGE – More pocket parks, less landscaping, more parking, less parking, wider sidewalks, better lighting – those were among hundreds of comments submitted during a series of three meetings to address how to revitalize downtown Breckenridge.Representatives from Design Workshop of Aspen solicited the comments from business owners, town officials, the public, the historical society, Breckenridge Ski Resort, transit operators and others beginning Jan. 31. They will present the comments in a public open house from 6-7:30 p.m. today in the Forest Room in the Liftside building at the Village at Breckenridge.At that meeting, facilitators hope to narrow the list to eight to 10 issues about which citizens are most concerned.”This is a wonderful community – it’s not broken at all,” said Aspen architect Harry Teague, who is part of the design team. “We just need to tweak it.”
The process is part of the Downtown Revitalization Project designed to make Main Street more pedestrian friendly, integrate its transit systems with the downtown core and link the Riverwalk Center with the Blue River Plaza, Main Street and the arts district on Ridge Street. The ultimate goal is to animate downtown, make visitors feel more comfortable – and hopefully encourage them to open their wallets a little wider at the cash register.”It’s not just around Main Street, either,” said facilitator Pam Britton. “It’s about connecting all these wonderful elements in town and inviting people to go from one wonderful piece to another.”Many comments submitted were similar and asked the town to address pedestrian safety, crosswalks, unified and easily understood signs and the use of public transit.Some ways the town could improve pedestrian safety include creating “bump-out” corners at the major intersections and using a different kind of paving material at those crosswalks so drivers can see people easier, building mid-block crosswalks so people aren’t darting into traffic and erecting more signs ordering drivers to yield to pedestrians.Those in attendance felt parking – always a contentious issue in Breckenridge – was a primary key to revitalizing downtown, but they weren’t in agreement about how to go about it.
Some said they wanted diagonal parking while others wanted vehicles banned from Main Street and to make it into a pedestrian mall.Carol Rockne, a longtime citizen and business owner, said the town needs to build a parking structure, most likely on F-Lot southwest of the Riverwalk Center.”The No. 1 problem is not Main Street,” she said. “It’s parking. We’re putting the cart before the horse. If we take care of parking first, you won’t have people driving up and down Main Street; put up good signage to get people to the parking structure and then you can make Main Street work better.”Others suggested alternating blocks of diagonal and parallel parking and leaving it the way it is.Rockne also opposed the creation of a pedestrian mall, saying most of them are failures – something consultants have told town officials over the years, as well.”A pedestrian mall is the kiss of death,” Rockne said. “We have something really special here. If it’s not broken, we shouldn’t fix it. Our Main Street is pretty close to perfect.”
Other suggestions included enhancing view corridors, creating interactive spaces, installing benches, planters and infrastructure for banners and changing street space for use for festivals. Some suggested the town more clearly define the different districts – shopping, historic and arts among them – in town, eliminate landscaping that either blocks storefront windows or that pedestrians trample and widen the sidewalks.”You say the sidewalks are crowded,” Britton said. “It’s interesting you think that way. Nine out of 10 resorts would say they’d love to have that problem.”Other discussion centered around how to liven up the Riverwalk and incorporate businesses at the south end of town into Main Street festivals.The design team will meet today to compile the comments before presenting them to the public later tonight.Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or email@example.com.
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