- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Editor’s note: Today is part two of a six-part series, “Forward Jamestown,” on some of the major areas of the Forward Jamestown Land Use and Transportation Plan recently approved by the Jamestown City Council.

By Masaki Ova

The Jamestown Sun

With Jamestown’s main street being listed as a barrier rather than a magnet for activity, the main focus in the Land Use and Transportation Plan is to reinforce activity in the downtown area.

By definition, the LUTP should serve as a guideline for zoning, property development and infrastructure improvements for about 15 years. This plan that was approved by the City Council serves as a guideline up to 2040. The plan was developed by RDG Planning and Design and KLJ.

In 2013, the Jamestown Downtown Association, with assistance from Strategic Plan ND, developed a strategic plan for downtown Jamestown. The strategic plan provides a long-term vision for downtown Jamestown.

After discussions with stakeholders and observing the downtown area, a long-term downtown vision was developed. According to the LUTP, it was concluded the downtown of the future should:

—provide Jamestown citizens and visitors with many reasons to be downtown.

—create public spaces that make downtown attractive and fun.

—connect downtown’s assets.

—create a safe and pleasant main street environment.

—build on arts, cultural and educational themes.

—increase customer convenience.

—make downtown a neighborhood.

The LUTP includes six downtown development concepts. The development concepts include 1st Avenue, the Civic Center area, railside corridor, art core, library and Jamestown Middle School area and neighborhood development.

Jamestown Downtown Association President Lynn Lambrecht said traffic in the downtown area would be slowed down under the plan.

“One of our concerns was the flow of traffic, and probably parking and pedestrian use,” said Charlie Kourajian, a City Council member and an ambassador with the Downtown Association. “One of the meetings we wanted to slow traffic down so people could enjoy the historic buildings down there and make it easier for people to stop and shop.”

Lambrecht said the Downtown Association wants to focus on making it easier for businesses to do business and shoppers to shop downtown.

“Part of that is the support of the LUTP should help us in that direction,” she said. “We are also working on getting more information out on the Renaissance Zone program that is still available for tax breaks for people interested in investing their businesses or property downtown.”

Kourajian said one of the Downtown Association’s goals is to get more retail stores downtown to make people want to go to that area and shop. He said the downtown area has two furniture stores, a sporting goods store that sells firearms, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles, but the area needs a little more variety of stores for people to walk the sidewalks and see what is in the stores.

“The biggest goal is they can spend some time downtown and enjoy all of it rather than driving to one place and driving off,” Lambrecht said. “I think we have a wonderful entertainment district down there. We would love to see some boutiques and other shops down there and that is part of the goal of making it more pedestrian friendly.”

First Avenue

The LUTP states 1st Avenue will function successfully with a three-lane road, which will make it easier for people to walk across the street. It also says the use of curb extensions at corners can reduce the distance that pedestrians have to walk across the street.

“Some of it is a perception. When you have four lanes of traffic to walk across, it feels like an obviously longer expanse than if you have a curb that is coming out and breaking up some of that expanse,” Lambrecht said. “There is a safer feel because you have a shorter distance to get to the next curb.”

The LUTP says a previous analysis on traffic signals indicates existing signals at 4th Street North, 3rd Street North, 1st Street North and South and 5th Street South are unwarranted. It proposes to keep signals at 3rd Street South and 4th Street North and remove other signals.

Lambrecht said she is a little hesitant on removing the traffic signals. She said 1st Avenue still has the most traffic out of any of the north-south roads even with the U.S. Highway 281/52 bypass.

“In my opinion, I am trusting the designers of LUTP of what they say is still going to help,” she said. “I did notice in Fargo on Broadway that every single street corner had lights. There was a lot of pedestrian traffic waiting for lights. They did have an explanation or a plan for that. Traffic will still slow down.”

The LUTP also proposes to install pedestrian refuge medians instead of having a center turn lane on a three-lane road. That would require pedestrians to only have to cross one lane at a time. A contemporary pedestrian signal like a high-intensity activated crosswalk beacon could be installed at one location, which potentially could be between 1st and 2nd Street.

The Civic Center District

The Civic Center District is defined by the edge of the railroad corridor, 4th Street and 4th Avenue Northeast and 1st Avenue North. The railroad corridor includes the parking lots north and south of the railroad tracks along 1st Street East and 2nd Street Northeast and extends to 1st Avenue and 4th Avenue North and South.

The main concepts for the Civic Center District are to:

—improve parking and the surrounding area of the Jamestown Civic Center, including providing substantial barrier-free parking at the front door of the Civic Center.

—Improving circulation and connectivity within the area and the rest of the downtown south of the railroad.

—break parking lots into smaller blocks and provide pedestrian routes through these lots.

The LUTP proposes to add more parking spaces in the Civic Center parking lot by building a two-level parking deck on the south side of the Civic Center parking lot. It also aims to redesign the Jamestown Business Center parking lots by adding walkways to divide them into two sections. The parking lot to the east of the Business Center would include a sheltered walkway between the east entrance of the building and 4th Avenue Northeast.

The LUTP proposes to have a walkway to link the Gladstone Inn & Suites to the Civic Center and a sidewalk along 2nd Avenue Northeast that links to the Gladstone and Business Center. The Gladstone parking area by the railroad tracks would be unified with its parking area near the hotel to add more parking space for people staying at the hotel.

The railside corridor

The LUTP aims to use these spaces to bring people to the area by using the green spaces next to the railroad tracks that includes the existing gazebo and the depot site interpretation. With the existing quiet zone and fences surrounding the railroad tracks in place, the LUTP proposes to redesign railside lots to improve circulation, parking supply, provide landscaping and pedestrian access and connect the lots more effectively to adjacent retail blocks. Mid-block pedestrian crossings would be built between the railside lots and adjacent storefronts across 1st Street Southeast and 2nd Street Northwest.

Converting the railside green spaces into a railside paved public walking areas is also included in the LUTP. The spaces could include a four-season recreation area that could be designed as an ice-skating trail in the winter. The public walking areas could also include repurposing the 4th Avenue underpass as a pedestrian way with lighting effects if that underpass is closed and replaced by a new 12th Avenue and 3rd Street grade separation.

Art core

This area is near the Arts Center and calls for a mix of art, retail development, creative space and housing. Its features include the planned development of the Arts Park at the corner of 1st Avenue South and 2nd Street Southeast, the redevelopment of the vacant Eagles building site and other properties on the east side of 2nd Avenue Southwest between 2nd and 3rd Streets.

“The Arts Park itself is a wonderful addition. Some of the plans they have for that are amazing,” Lambrecht said.

“They (Arts Center) have a lot of family-tied activities where families come down and parents are there with their kids,” Kourajian said.

The LUTP calls for development of an arts alley in the alley behind 1st Avenue stores and possible installation of wall art on the blank walls of Hugo’s Family Marketplace along 3rd Street Southwest and 1st Avenue.

Library/Jamestown

Middle School area

The LUTP addresses parking and problems associated with moving traffic around the middle school and Alfred Dickey Library. Parking in the 2nd Avenue lot would be reconfigured as an east-west aisle arrangement, the curb line from that street would be expanded to the existing parking lane and off-street parking would be removed from the west side of the street.

The LUTP also calls for widening the existing alley between 1st Avenue South and 2nd Avenue Southeast and having a loop that goes through the parking lot from 2nd Avenue through the alley and back out to 2nd Avenue. A pedestrian walkway would be created that would go from the middle school to the east edge of the library property through the alley.

Lambrecht said a renovation of the library could help revitalize the downtown area. The James River Valley Library System is working on another plan to renovate Alfred Dickey Library, and Lambrecht said she would like to see the library stay in the downtown area.

“It is always good to have a well-trafficked library in your downtown,” she said.

Neighborhood development

The LUTP says residential development can be an important element of downtown revitalization. Lambrecht said residential development in downtown Jamestown is not being utilized as well as it could.

Kourajian said the downtown area has good examples of apartments and quite a few, too.

“There is some really nice areas. Those other ones could be made into comfortable apartments,” he said. “All those buildings have apartments.”

“They are not as full as they could be either,” Lambrecht said. “There is some room there especially given the housing challenges Jamestown has right now.”

Kourajian and Lambrecht said the quiet zone has helped. The quiet zone went into effect for all five railroad crossings in 2012.

The LUTP calls for the block between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue from 3rd to 4th Street Northwest to be built as a residential block. Plans call for the apartments north of The Jamestown Sun on 3rd Street Northwest to be restored and the development of a new rowhouse block immediately east of that building on the site of an existing three-story structure. A new multi-family or townhome project would go on the north half of the block with interior or covered parking a half level below grade with residential units above.

Wednesday: Transportation challenges in southwest area

Sun Assistant Editor Masaki Ova can be reached at (701)952-8451 or by email at [email protected]

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