Recently I was on an episode of a local radio program, and between the program’s co-hosts and me, we solved the State Street dilemma! We all had our own ideas about what was needed, and they mashed up into the perfect plan:
First, the current parklets with their 2×4 wooden fences must be redesigned to be a part of the pedestrian mall, not separated from it. That mall should be made to resemble (extend) the current sidewalks, and be an open plaza where people are comfortable strolling and crossing. It should not feel like a street – bicycles and skateboards should be prohibited along with the cars.
Second, there should be a slow-moving trolley going up and down the mall. Even 3 or 4 blocks is a long way to walk, let alone 10 or 11 blocks. On the trolley, people would see the activities and businesses along the way – and even get off to patronize those stores and clubs that they would not even know about otherwise. The trolley path/plaza would provide a clear route for emergency vehicles, and even parades! Maybe not Fiesta – those dancing horses need a full street – but the Solstice parade would be perfect. Can you imagine watching the Solstice from the parklets?
Finally, to help install and maintain the plaza, businesses should be charged a fair rent for the public space on which they are conducting private business. That rent should be comparable to what they are paying for their indoor space, on a square-footage basis. (It’s only fair to the taxpayers who own that outside space.)
The details have to be worked out, of course – but the blueprint is at least as good as what some out-of-town consultant may come up with. You can send the $790,000 directly to me, and I’ll make sure it’s divided among the participants (née designers).