During the course of the evening several topics were approached:
examination of current conditions in the downtown area, evaluating
the assets of the community and recognizing hurdles to re-creating
the downtown district.
At the end of the evening, Darren Forgy of
Prairie Engineers talked about some suggestions that have been made
for making the city more attractive.
He shared drawings from Kent Massie on how a fresh look might be
given to the two county-owned parks, Latham and Scully, as well as
the Logan County Courthouse on the downtown square.
The drawings are only suggestions at this time. No decisions have
been made to make any changes to any of the three areas.
Massie Massie and Associates is the firm that designed the plans
for the APEX at City Center.
In Latham Park, which is located one block north of the square on
North Kickapoo, the bandstand is the focal point of the park.
Massie thought the sidewalk surrounding the bandstand needs a
facelift. He suggested a plaza area that pulls the sidewalk away
from the walls of the bandstand to create a larger space around it.
In addition, Massie noted that there are sidewalks on the outside
edge of the park, but only on three sides. His concept drawing
suggests adding a sidewalk on the north side of the park. At each
corner of the park, the drawings added features, such as a bike
parking area, an information kiosk and an outdoor café.
The new plan also included revamping the playground area, adding
things that would be more toddler-friendly and regrading the slopes
along some of the sidewalks leading to the bandstand to make them
In Scully Park, Massie recognized the fountain as the focal point
of the park and drew plans that would make that area a better social
place. He once again extended the sidewalk areas around the
fountain. In addition he added pergolas on either side of the
fountain plaza and a small stage area at the south end of the plaza.
At this park, he moved the playground equipment to the east side
of the park. He also added an outdoor café in that playground
vicinity and placed family shelters on both the east and west sides
of the park.
At the Logan County Courthouse, Massie suggested making the
statues around the building focal points on the sidewalks, just as
the Civil War statue has been created to do. This would involve
moving the Indian statue that is currently on the south lawn to one
of the four corners.
There is currently an information kiosk on the southwest corner
of the lawn. Massie suggested it be moved to the McLean Street side
of the courthouse and centered in the broad sidewalk that leads from
the street to the courthouse steps.
Massie, who was not present for the meeting Tuesday night, had
also shared with Forgy that he thought it was very uncommon for
someone walking on the sidewalk to be able to reach out and touch
the walls of a courthouse.
He suggested relocating the sidewalk around the courthouse,
bringing it out a few feet from the building and filling the gap
with shrubbery. Massie's drawing also incorporated more trees in the
Other items that Forgy talked about were problems that had been
mentioned during the workshops. One is that there are a lot of
above-ground utility lines in the city. Forgy said the workshops
relating to traffic, infrastructure and utilities had brought up
that the city should try to find a way to get those utility lines
underground and out of sight.
Other problems that came up in the discussions were the sewer
odor coming up from the combined sewer system and the blinking
Forgy said the groups had agreed that something needed to be done
about the blinking stoplights. He said the majority were in favor of
putting in stop signs but wanted them to have a decorative element.
Others were concerned about taking the stoplights away because of
their age and historical value to the city.
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Talking about creating a connecting corridor from the rail station
to the downtown area, Forgy showed a slide of a street in another
town where the sidewalks had been widened significantly to make them
better for foot traffic. In order to preserve the parking, the
street had been narrowed and made one-way. He said this was an
option the city could consider.
In another slide, he showed an example of a city where the curbs
of the downtown sidewalks are built out into the street area. These
are referred to as "bump outs." He said the primary purpose for
doing something like this in Lincoln would be safety. He said
building the curbs out at the intersections would allow people to
step out far enough to see around parked cars before crossing the
street. It would also make the walking distance in the actual street
Another slide illustrated how another town is making the
pedestrian crosswalks more visible for walkers and motorists. The
crosswalk area was a different color than the street -- brick red in
that particular crosswalk.
As had been stated earlier by Ian Colgan, Forgy said again that
parking is a big issue in the downtown Lincoln area.
In the discussion groups, Forgy said the majority were in favor
of bringing back parking meters to the downtown area in the hopes
that it might prevent people who work in the downtown area from
taking up a prime parking space for eight or more hours at a time.
Forgy said that technology has improved the payment options for
parking meters. He said today there are options to pay for parking
at a kiosk and also apps for paying by cellphone.
As the evening drew to a close, Forgy fielded a few questions
from the audience.
He was asked if in the development of these plans, consideration
had been given to the maintenance cost of the new landscapes. Forgy
said that that has been addressed in the plans.
Another comment came that there was a concern for vandalism of
the parks. JoAnne Marlin said that was always a big problem for the
county in that they would invest in something, then it would be
damaged, and they would have to invest again in repairing it.
Forgy said they were looking at vandal-resistant products for the
playgrounds and other areas.
Colgan also spoke up on that issue, saying that today there are
"holes of activity" in the downtown area. He said if the city
develops a more active downtown area on the whole, there would be
less opportunity for vandalism.
Finally, there was a question about providing more bike parking
space downtown. Forgy said it has been discussed, but the big
problem came with the lack of parking for vehicles. He said it
wasn’t worth giving up the vehicle parking spaces to add bike
Forgy ended the evening by telling the group that the steering
committee for downtown revitalization has a Facebook page.
Interested parties can go onto Facebook and search "Lincoln downtown
revitalization" to find it. Also they have plans in the works for a
website and hope to have it up and running in the very near future.
[By NILA SMITH]
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