What can Carbondale’s Third Street be?
Carbondale has $400,000 budgeted for streetscape improvements to Third Street, and a group recently walked the street from end to end to get community feedback.
Third Street has become a high-traffic area for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists because it’s the corridor between Main Street, the library and the Third Street Center, said Andrea Korber, a principal at architectural firm Land and Shelter, which led the community walking tour.
The street’s design is quirky — old town, rural character bookended by commercial, institutional areas, Korber said.
Design of the streetscape improvements is in its brainstorming phase and almost completely unwritten, though the town plans to fix some drainage issues where sidewalks are well-known to collect water during rainstorms.
In the past, Carbondale has gotten some pushback on street improvements, such as wide, swooping curbs at intersections on Main Street, so the town wanted to get early public comment on what the community wants to see happen with Third Street.
Korber already had done some community outreach for the Carbondale Branch Library, where she helped incorporate input from fifth- through seventh-graders and developed a local artists competition for the building’s public art installations.
During the walking tour, residents offered ideas including developing a community garden and expanding ditch access to more homeowners for irrigation.
One message participants already made clear is that the stretch between the library and Main Street should keep its “residential-rural” character rather than being formalized with curbs, gutters and striped parking, Korber said.
Residents also have the corridor’s trees on their minds, and the tour had a strong showing of landscape architects, arborists and members of the town’s Tree Board, she said.
Some brainstormed on how to handle a conflict between trees and parking in some areas, talking about making some buffering for trees planted around on-street parking.
Parking alone will give designers plenty to think about, and Korber said many people want to design parking block by block rather than taking a cookie-cutter approach to the whole area.
Third Street is bookended on both sides by a bike path, and developing an asphalt connection is a goal of the project, Korber said.
A connecting bike path along Third Street would further the town’s goal of making a multimodal downtown, “which is important to me and I think the rest of the community,” she said.
Burying some overhead utility lines also came up on the wish list, though that project might be harder and costlier than it sounds.
An SGM engineer on the tour said it could be done, but he pointed out that burying lines on one street has a domino effect in which you have to bury the lines they’re connected to.
“But it’s good to bring those things up because we can at least make sure we don’t take steps now to prevent burying the lines later if that’s the direction the community wants to go,” Korber said.
The next step will be a community meeting May 19 at Town Hall, where comments submitted so far will be ratified and community members will get another opportunity to chime in.
Korber encourages community members to email her comments on the direction they think improvements should take. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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