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Downtown revitalization plan will be pitched at public hearing

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Attendees at the downtown revitalization meeting watch the presentation by consultants Colie Hough-Beck and Jeffrey Louman. A plan incorporating suggestions from attendees of the meetings will be presented at a public hearing planned for December.

The third meeting of the Sunnyside downtown revitalization steering committee was held last night (Thursday) at the Mini Mall and resulted in ideas that will be presented at a public hearing to be scheduled in December.

Almost 20 attendees responded to ideas presented by the consultants based on the discussions of the previous meeting. Colie Hough-Beck of Hough Beck & Baird Inc., a Seattle landscape architectural firm, started the presentation with a recap of the previous meetings.

Jeffrey Louman of Huibregtse, Louman Associates, Inc., a civil engineering firm working with Hough-Beck, explained that one of the ideas about parking presented in the last meeting, a mix of diagonal and parallel parking, would not work due to lane alignment problems.

The current proposal calls for parallel parking in the downtown core, which consists of the corner of Sixth and Edison and the four blocks radiating out from it. The rest of the downtown streets involved in the project would have diagonal parking.

The arguments in favor of parallel parking are that it provides plenty of room for wider sidewalks while allowing clearance for trucks or parade floats and there is a lot of parking available in the greater downtown area. There will be roughly half the available parking spots along those four blocks.

At the four corners that act as entrances to the downtown core the consultants suggested a bulb out of the sidewalk to provide a more people-friendly space.

The discussion then moved to the lighting of downtown. At the last meeting an historic picture was found of the downtown streets with globe lighting, so the consultants proposed similar lighting.

Use of the alleys to connect the downtown core with other areas was discussed. Louman dubbed the alley next to Centennial Park "Neon Alley" and suggested a neon sign display would work to make that a corridor connecting Central Park to the downtown area.

The layout of trees in the downtown area was addressed and decisions were made as to whether the trees should have planters around them or tree grates. Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce Director Pam Turner brought up the crowds during parades, and suggested that grates would be a very good idea for the intersections, at the very least.

Some debate arose over whether light poles should have hanging flower baskets or banners, although eventually a compromise was reached that will be presented at the public hearing.

Design of the sidewalks was discussed, with the consultants suggesting a brick accent for the sidewalks. The attendees seemed to favor a generally open design, vetoing any large planters like in Grandview or Yakima.

One attendee also spoke of making the basic design elements simple enough that they could later be continued into streets not part of the current project. As an example, he suggested that similar lights and accents could be extended down Edison all the way to the high school.

The choice of trees for the downtown core resulted in the most agreement of the night, with the Bowhall Maple being the choice that attendees favored. The trees are suitable for downtown streets, with root systems that adapt to the confined areas and do not cause sidewalk buckling.

The meeting ended with overall satisfaction with the proposed design. The elements will be brought together to be presented in a public hearing, after which the design will be presented to the city council and plans will move forward to make the proposal into reality.

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