Langley looks at Second Street redesign concepts
By JUSTIN BURNETT
South Whidbey Record Island County
July 17, 2012 · Updated 2:01 PM
Two months into the design phase, Langley decision-makers and the public got their first real look at early plans for Second Street Monday.
A representative from KPG, the city’s hired design firm, gave a presentation during the City Council’s regular meeting at City Hall. More than 35 people attended and the consensus appeared to be one of pleasure.
“I came here thinking I’d be disappointed and I’m not so congratulations,” said Paul Schell, owner of the Inn at Langley and other Langley property, and former mayor and planning chief in Seattle.
Paul Fuesel, with KPG’s landscape architecture and urban design division, went over the concepts the firm has tried to incorporate into early designs, from efforts to keep the street from being “homogenized” to promoting aspects of a community gathering place.
The project, which will span from Anthes to Cascade avenues, will accomplish not just infrastructure needs but also serves as an opportunity to redesign the street and strengthen Langley’s business district.
“This is a downtown project as much as a street project,” Fuesel said.
While no design is being proposed yet, Fuesel did unveil three alternatives for the street. Each incorporated considerations such as parking, sidewalks, way finding, delivery truck access, street crossing and possibilities for landscaping in various configurations.
While one would offer 69 total parking stalls with 62 angled and seven parallel spaces, another suggested 68 stalls using only angled stalls. Both would keep sidewalks about the same size at roughly six feet.
A third suggestion would reduce parking with 60 total stalls — 28 angled and 32 parallel — but would increase sidewalk width to about 9 feet.
Safety and making the entire area feel pedestrian friendly, including the street itself, has been a primary design emphasis.
“Essentially, we want the street to feel like an open crosswalk,” Fuesel said.
He displayed images that ranged from a central portion of the street encompassed by pavers, which might make clear the concept of a community gathering place, to street gateways. The entrance at Cascade might be marked with a viewing platform on the bluff while Second Street at Anthes could be divided with a central median of trees or landscaping.
The redesign would also hope to make leaps in way finding. Routes to public bathrooms, parking and even paths or alleys leading to other parts of the city, such as First Street, would be marked with clear and simple signs.
Officials at the meeting stressed that nothing is set in stone, that these are just ideas. Many are concepts taken directly from the public and business owners.
Last month, the city held a workshop over a period of several days and Jeff Arango, director of Community Planning, has been working to meet individually with every single property owner on Second Street. He reported that he was about half done.
Schell, who said he’s seen many such presentations over the years for redesigns in other areas, said he was pleasantly surprised and liked what he saw. He did make a few suggestions, however, as did several others in the crowd.
He asked for soft tree lighting while another person suggested a meandering of the street with segments of the sidewalk extending into the roadway.
Elected city officials also seemed pleased with the work so far. Councilwoman Rene Neff, also a First Street business owner, said she particularly liked the concept of an overlook on Cascade.
“I think that’s a dynamite idea,” she said.
Councilman Doug Alderdice addressed the issue of putting overhead power lines underground, saying that now might be the best time to do so. Fuesel said that it would be expensive, though he couldn’t provide an exact cost. However, it would require agreements with Puget Sound Energy and also require property owners to hook up to the new system, which could cost thousands of dollars.
According to Arango, the design phase of the project is expected to wrap up by the end of August. At that time, the city hopes to have a preferred alternative but this is a public process and it could always be extended if need be.
“I think we’ll follow the will of the community,” he said.
Contact South Whidbey Record Island County Justin Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.