Langley residents can have a say in the future of First Street.
The City of Langley and Langley Main Street Association are seeking public input for a redesign of the road at a community meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 at the Langley United Methodist Church Community Room.
“We want as many people as possible to be part of the designing of it,” said Janet Ploof, president of the Langley Main Street Association.
The city was awarded a $250,000 Complete Streets Grant in December 2016. The funds are earmarked for improvements along First Street from Wharf Drive to Anthes Avenue, with construction slated for sometime in the spring of 2018. Among the proposals floating around are improvements to pedestrian safety, streetscape and cycling infrastructure, as well as modifications to sidewalks and crosswalks in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The meeting’s organizers say they are all ears for any other ideas that the public may have.
Replicating the success that Second Street has seen since its $2.2 million redesign in 2014 is a top priority, Ploof said. She believes First Street is just as much of a beacon for the city, but that it currently lacks walkability appeal. She said the point of the redesign will be to make First Street an attractive destination for walkers and tourists that will improve both the look and feel of the street, as well as business vitality.
“The whole thing could become more social,” Ploof said. “The whole point of this Complete Street First Street Project is that it is better to have someone walk by your shop than have somebody drive by your shop.”
Ploof added that she expects First Street will take on a personality of its own and won’t be a carbon copy of Second Street, though it will likely include a crosswalk paver leading to Boy and Dog Park similar to the crosswalk across the middle of Second Street.
Langley architect Ross Chapin is among those helping guide the development of First Street’s redesign. Chapin, who owns the firm Ross Chapin Architects on Second Street, said it’s important to figure out how to balance the needs of creating an environment friendly to both pedestrians and automobiles.
“I’m going to be sort of assisting in any way that I can,” Chapin said.
Chapin believes First Street has plenty of potential, but expects some challenge. For example, complying with ADA rules that require wider sidewalks while ensuring there’s enough room left over for parking will be tricky. The road also has a narrow right of way, he said.
“I’m hoping we can find a resolution that strikes the right balance,” Chapin said. “I think it can be done. There’s certainly room for big improvement.”
Chapin said the “center” of Langley has shifted toward Second Street and that it’s become a “people place” due to its consistent foot traffic.
“I think that First Street needs to be brought up to that level,” Chapin said.
Ploof anticipates that the meeting could also lead to future improvements in the surrounding areas, such as Seawall Park and Whale Bell Park, as both tie into the overall viability and draw for First Street.
Mayor Tim Callison hopes input given by the public will fit into the theme of integrating multiple forms of transportation, from vehicles to bicycles, and creating a pathway for pedestrians that’s inviting. He echoed Ploof’s sentiments when he added that he’d like to see a plan made that is larger than the scope of the grant dollars to create a plan that could eventually create a “harmonious circulation” from First Street down to Whale Bell Park and into Seawall Park.
“They’re not well used,” Callison said. “At the height of the summer when the town is full of tourist, they don’t know to venture down there.”