Parking, or lack of it–it’s a problem that has plagued Wentzville’s historic downtown area for a long time, and the City of Wentzville has come up with some ideas to solve it.
Two of those options involve one-way streets. But how would the residents feel about making two major downtown streets, Pearce Boulevard and Allen Street, into one-way roads?
Staffers at city hall decided to go straight to the people to find out–at a “charrette” last Thursday.
“Charrette” is a French term that means “an intense period of design or planning activity,” according to Wikipedia. Instead of a formal presentation followed by a question-and-answer session, the charrette–which was held at the Community Club–was an informal gathering. Large posters showed aerial views of the three options presented, and three large tables were set up for residents to participate in brainstorming sessions.
Assistant Public Works Director Doug Lee hosted one of the tables to discuss the one-way plan options. Both the first and second options would make Pearce westbound only and Allen eastbound only, with roundabouts at Meyer Road and Luetkenhaus. Cross streets would alternate one-way north and one-way south. The first option, however, would offer angled parking while the second option would offer parallel parking on both sides of the street.
The third option would keep the streets in their current two-way configurations, but the streets would be narrowed to add streetscaping and on-street parking.
Participants were asked for their opinions on the options. Many participants agreed that the one-way configurations would provide better pedestrian access, make the downtown area more “walkable,” encourage better traffic flow to businesses on the cross streets, and make the streets safer for pedestrians, bikers and motorists. Concerns were expressed, however, how the changes would affect business with limited frontage and businesses that have truck access on Pearce. Signage would need to be improved and made to fit in better with the historic district.
David Gipson, the assistant city administrator, led a table discussion on streetscaping and amenities such as bike racks, benches, planters and green space. Many participants pointed out that any changes should mirror the recent improvements on Church Street so that downtown would have a consistent look.
Dan Lang, the city’s new economic development director and a Wentzville native, led a table discussion about bringing new business to the downtown area. Here there was some disagreement, with some participants saying no manufacturing and some saying that light manufacturing could be acceptable.
Some participants were against more bars, while others thought that restaurants and bars would draw more business to the area. Other suggestions were salons, sandwich shops, ice cream parlors, and artists’ studios and galleries. Lang also asked how residents felt about city government providing incentives for businesses in the downtown area and what sort of incentives the city could offer.
About 45 people signed in during the first hour of the charette, which was open from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.