You can feel the positive vibe that exists in our great downtown. From the successes of the Green Street Market, the Sidewalk Arts Stroll, and the numerous parades and events, there are many to thank for this.
It's been almost six years since I presented the following concept, so I thought with all the recent activity downtown, and the tireless efforts of so many, including the great work of the Arts Council, the downtown Museums, the Convention and Visitor's Bureau and the Mayor's Office, I'd go ahead and give it another go:
The Marketplace on the Square proposal from Sam & Greg Hathorn of Sam & Greg's Pizzeria/Gelateria provides a pragmatic and affordable approach to bringing traditional green space back to the courthouse grounds. The idea is to permanently convert the north and south side roads into pedestrian spaces, complete with fountains, gazebos and green space for live music/performances, tables/chairs with community wi-fii to be used by the public, and guests of the surrounding restaurants and attractions, and maybe even a children's fountain on either the north or south side. This idea creates the traditional government promenade or piazza around our own center of government, much like you see in classic European cities.
This would create a safer environment because it would stop the congestion caused by the automobile traffic endlessly circling the courthouse, vying for the handful of parallel parking spaces that exist on the north and south sides. Better to re-institute slotted parking east and west of the courthouse on the two major thoroughfares which lead in and out of town center - Washington and Jefferson Streets. This would add approximately 50 parking spaces, and still leave room for a 10+ foot sidewalk on east and west side. Picture it - a safe pedestrian area that extends from the merchants on the south side, all the way around the courthouse to the merchants on the north side. Wouldn't that be a great and pedestrian-friendly use of space? Almost two football fields of pedestrian right-of-way on the interior Courthouse Square, and a perfect complement to the Square's 19th century architecture. I think it would be an urban-renewal concept that other local governments would come to see and model. If you haven't seen the entire concept, check out more info at: www.marketplaceonthesquare.com