The progress of the proposed project to repurpose Walnut Street (alley) into an urban pedestrian paradise continues. On October 15th, interested parties met with the City of Denton Mobility Committee. The committee had earlier been tasked by City Councilwoman Pete Kamp to look into the viability of the project. The meeting was attended by several Walnut Street area business people, and representatives of several city departments.
In this preliminary meeting, the mobility committee came up with three scenarios……. 1) a complete closing of Walnut and repurposing to create a park-like pedestrian area. 2) a partial closing with a 20′ wide “road” through the area for service and safety vehicles, and 3) a change much like the Hickory St. corridor, with angled parking and wider sidewalks.
With few exceptions, scenario #1 seemed to be the most popular choice. Walnut Street is very narrow, and as I mentioned, more of an alley than a city street. Idea numbers 2 and 3 are limited in their potential utilization due to the narrowness and length of the street. Several potential positives AND negatives were discussed. Some of the business owners had already done some homework and found solutions for things such as grease traps and garbage disposal. Additionally, the City is now looking at a more centralized delivery system for the Downtown area, which would designate areas for delivery trucks to park and service the area without blocking our main thoroughfares.
Representatives of the city fire department were present, and initially said they needed access through Walnut Street in case of fire in the immediate area. The fact that previous fires were fought from either the Elm or the Locust Street ends of Walnut, and the thought of a fire engine and fire fighters trapped on the narrow street in a major fire, gave the DFD reason to go back and study possible ways to make the Walnut Street We-Do work.
The underground and above ground utilities for the street have pretty much reached the end of their life cycle and are due to be reworked soon, so that is money that already needs to be spent. The “We-Do” aspect of this project was discussed in an earlier blog post on this subject. Denton is bursting with a multitude of talent. Borrowing from urban renewal ideas in other cities, the plan would be to repurpose Walnut Street using the donated materials, ideas and labor of the citizens of Denton. $800,000 was originally set aside for an upgrade of Walnut Street but those funds were diverted to the Hickory Street corridor project which is now getting underway. Hopefully, a “We-Do” would cost significantly less than that.
Some people have said that there are better places to do this project. There are certainly other places this could and hopefully will be done, but none better me thinks. It’s not an “either/or” situation. We could easily have several of these projects going on around our great city at the same time! We are limited only by our imaginations. There are always ways to get things done.
At the end of the Mobility Committee meeting, Pete Kamp asked the committee members and the other City departments to go back and study the project with open and challenging minds. Disruptive thinking can help to create a shady, relaxing and fun filled area just a half block off the Square and lead to similar projects around our City. Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org with any and all thoughts on this. Denton is an amazing place to live. Let’s work to make it even better!