Some Langley residents are OK with losing a few parking spots if it means a more pedestrian friendly First Street.
That was one of the consensuses reached at a public meeting on Wednesday night at the Langley United Methodist Church. To do so would require changing the parking alignment along the street from angled to parallel, which would free up space for wider sidewalks on the north side of the street. The cost is less spaces.
“Everyone seemed to agree with changing the angle in parking to parallel parking,” said Lorinda Kay, program director for the Langley Main Street Association.
The meeting was held to gauge what Langley residents and business owners want for the future of the street, which is up for a facelift. City Planning Director Brigid Reynolds explained the details of the city’s $250,000 Complete Streets Grant, the majority of which is earmarked for upgrades along First Street from Wharf Street to Anthes Avenue to accommodate all levels of mobility. Some immediate concerns include resurfacing asphalt and complying with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, but she said there is room for other improvements as well.
Public comments and ideas from a previous meeting in October 2016, such as an enhanced crosswalk across First Street to Anthes Avenue, moveable chairs and tables, planters and creating a “plaza feel” similar to that of Second Street were collected, compiled and available to about 50 people who attended the meeting.
Ross Chapin, a Langley-based architect, incorporated those ideas and some of his own into a sketch of what the street could look like in the future.
“What I wanted to do was provide a concept for the plans as a whole with the ideas and the details people had come up with,” Chapin said. “…I was quite surprised with the consensus of parallel parking spots. That’s the key piece here.”
Kay said Chapin’s sketch was received positively by most.
“The sketch that Ross Chapin presented did receive a consensus of approval from most people at the meeting,” Kay said.
Chapin said it was important that people were on board with changing the parking alignment because it will allow for wider sidewalks, which in turn leads to more flexibility in design ideas moving forward. Chapin believes First Street has been in the shadow of Second Street ever since its $2.2 million redesign in 2014. He said the center of town has shifted to Second Street because of its draw for pedestrians and general appeal. He’d like to see First Street catch up.
“I’m excited personally,” Chapin said. “I think it brings First Street more up to date. It makes First Street more of what it is, which is a people place. A place where we’ve got wider sidewalks, sitting spots, gathering space. It’s safer.”
Other ideas floated at the meeting included stamped concrete across the intersection of First Street and Anthes Avenue to help slow and calm traffic, bike racks and repair stations, an improved connection to Seawall Park, a seasonal outdoor cafe near Whale Bell Park and the Dog House and historical kiosks near the park. Priorities for which projects can be accomplished and which ones will have to wait for future grant monies will need to be determined moving forward, Chapin said.
Chapin’s vision for the crosswalk improvement is shortening the distance of it from 45 feet to 22 feet, which will be aided by wider sidewalks. He hopes that all of the ideas will eventually fit the bill of a “complete street.”
“A complete street says there’s a place for automobiles, pedestrians, people of different abilities, bicyclists and community celebrations,” Chapin said. “That’s a complete street and that’s what the grant is titled and that’s what we’re going for.”