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South Barstow streeet plan back in council's hands

Posted May 9th, 2013

South Barstow streeet plan back in council's hands

By Andrew Dowd Leader-Telegram staff | Posted: Wednesday, May 8, 2013

 

After granting a delay for merchants and landowners to give input on this summer's overhaul of South Barstow Street, the Eau Claire City Council will still face the same proposed plan and change requests it had two weeks ago.

The South Barstow Business Improvement District's board voted 11-2 Tuesday to recommend the street design that was up for consideration, leaving it to the City Council to decide if requests from a few property owners should be granted to change parts of the plan.

"My fear if this is we're passing the buck," tavern owner Will Glass of The Fire House, 202 Gibson St., told fellow downtown business owners at Tuesday's meeting. "You could end up happy. You could end up very disappointed."

The city received requests last month to change features in the planned project that impact on-street parking, safety and landscape maintenance.

Property owners John Mogensen and Lisa Aspenson requested fewer "bump-outs" — raised, paved areas that protrude into the parking lane — in the middle of blocks, between intersections.

"On a normal day-to-day basis, all they're doing is removing two parking spots," said Mogensen, who owns numerous buildings on South Barstow Street. "I think we should maximize the parking."

But other downtown leaders noted that the bump-outs should remain because they serve practical functions, not just aesthetics.

"For us, it's a safety consideration," said Darcy Way, executive director of the Children's Museum of Eau Claire, 220 S. Barstow St. "We want the traffic coming into this intersection to be as slow as possible."

The proposed plan for the five blocks of South Barstow Street scheduled for construction would create 62 on-street parking stalls where there currently are 53 spots. Getting rid of all the mid-block bump-outs would create 24 more parking spaces, noted deputy city engineer Doug Derks.

Mogensen also found several spots on the plan where he would like a tree, as opposed to a small landscaped area called a "parklet."

Requests from property owner requests would cut the 15 planned parklets down to eight.

But some of the merchants at the meeting wanted the mini-parks to remain in the plan to make downtown more attractive.

"I think without the parklets, our downtown is going to look so sterile," said Jane Wolf, owner of the Silver Feather, 126 S. Barstow St.

Three City Council members — David Strobel, Monica Lewis and Eric Larsen — attended Tuesday's meeting of business leaders, as did several city employees.

The council delayed approving about $1.7 million in bids for the project on April 23, but noted that a decision must be made at its May 14 meeting or the road work would be postponed for another year.

The South Barstow Business Improvement District board took another vote Tuesday morning, unanimously affirming that it wanted the construction to happen this summer and not be delayed.

"If it does not go Tuesday, it will go another year," said Dan Goelzer, owner of The Calico Shoppe and Purple Petunia, 214 and 216 S. Barstow St. "That will upset the community."