By Cameron Rasmusson
A vision of Cedar Street under the city’s planned downtown revitalization project is beginning to take shape.
The Sandpoint City Council approved a plan for Cedar Street between Fifth and Second avenues this week, a step that paves the way for additional phases of the broader downtown revitalization project. It is a the culmination of a lengthy design and public engagement process undertaken by Century West Engineering.
After several public workshops, Dennis Fuller of Century West Engineering said they were able to accommodate several suggestions into the completed design. The plans include a variety of tree species selected for aesthetic value and urban hardiness, wider sidewalks, artistic improvements and maintenance features like storm gardens. The project will also include substantial sewer work, with replacement beginning in August.
A broad base of community groups contributed to elements of the final design. Business owners were largely concerned with maintaining benches and bike racks along the street.
Among the concerns of the Historic Preservation Commission were the inclusion of historic-influenced furniture and design elements, plants approved by the Kinnikinnick Native Plant Society and Idaho Extension Office of Master Gardeners and seat wall materials of either brick or stone native to North Idaho.
The Arts Commission requested eight-by-eight-foot pads for mounting art in the center of pedestrian bulbs. Members also asked that the art areas use different joint patterns to differentiate them. These art areas will provide a visual continuity with the Jeff Jones intersection, and Century West removed several storm gardens from the final design to make room for them.
The Tree Committee selected a suite of trees that included honey locust, ginkgo, bowhaul maple, tulip, green vase, eastern red bud and flowering pear, a palate from which the landscape architect can select three to five species. They also recommended removing the tree grates and fencing that appeared in earlier designs. Other recommendations concerned soil accommodation, access to sunlight and optimal spacing to ensure healthy and mature trees that don’t need replacement.
The Pedestrian and Bike Commission requested the inclusion of “sharrows,” or road markings reminding road users that the area is a shared space between cars and bicyclists. The overall design, as a result, shifted to be friendlier for bikes and foot traffic. While Fuller said in the council meeting that Cedar Street wasn’t included as a designated bike route, council members pointed out that bicyclists will still commonly use the street and felt sharrows were a low-cost way to promote safety mindfulness.
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