After two public input meetings, a handful of design concepts and an official Street Committee vote, Block Avenue is now set to get a complete overhaul by the end of the year.
Expect to see nine-foot-wide sidewalks, new lamps and street trees as part of the revitalization project that’s aimed at creating better walking access and a more friendly pedestrian link between the Fayetteville square and Dickson Street.
The section, which includes three blocks, will also receive a combination of angled forward and back-in parking as well as some parallel parking. The stretch will remain a one-way street but will be reduced to one travel lane.
The committee voted in favor of a staff-recommended plan which was presented by city engineer Chris Brown last Tuesday. A two-way traffic plan was also considered but Brown told the committee his staff was not in favor of that concept because it would sacrifice the amount of parking available and would not maintain the current traffic pattern.
“In looking at all the comments we received from business and property owners, parking was a major concern,” said Brown.
Ward 2 alderman Matthew Petty, who is also a member of the Street Committee, voted against the plan.
He preferred a concept with even wider sidewalks that could accommodate sidewalk cafes or plazas and cited the Downtown Master Plan’s fourteen-foot-wide recommendations in its “Strategies for Designing Great Streets” section.
“We really need to commit to that principle we adopted to create a superbly walkable environment,” Petty said.
Jeremy Pate, director of Fayetteville development services, reminded the committee that the Downtown Master Plan also states that its suggested width of sidewalks will vary according to the location, specifically when considering the height of the buildings adjacent to the property.
“It makes more sense to have nine-foot-wide sidewalks with three and four-story buildings,” said Pate.
Petty admitted that all of the concepts presented were “good enough” and would be a significant improvement but added, “Block Avenue is just so special that I want something that is better than good enough.”
The 3-1 vote by the committee, which also includes City Council members Bobby Ferrell, Brenda Thiel and Shirley Lucas, is enough to get the project started without full council approval.