Thursday, October 30, 2008

Charrette Closing Presentation

More than 180 people attended the closing presentation on Tuesday, October 28th. Overall the sentiment was that the plan was broadly accepted with the key concern that it would be implemented. Getting things done and making things happen was the highest priority from the public. The presentation made recommendations for the following:
  • Improve Circulation for all Modes
  • Protect and Improve the Environment with every Decision
  • Focus on Downtown at the Center
  • Create a Partnership/Incentives Program that facilitates Redevelopment
  • Housing, housing, housing particularly for the workforce
  • Full Overhaul of the Unified Development Ordinance

The full presentation can be found here.

Additional comments from the public included:

General comments/questions

  • How to deal with commercial access off of main roads in interim? Need to have access for trucks, etc. from primary road
  • How to deal with parking requirements?
  • Until UDO is overhauled, very little can happen
  • Can we get rid of UDO altogether?

How did we do?

  • Great plans – a shock to the people here because of the boldness of designs. These plans will have to be modified in some ways, but we have to think differently, too.
  • A truly great experience on all levels and a great way to spend taxpayer dollars. However, IMPLEMENTATION will be vital to our success in applying this plan.
  • Great plan! So many large designs. It’s not really what we really expect here. Although its fantastic, I don’t think it will really be Boone anymore. It’s good, but try not to make things so large and modern. It isn’t New York City, you know! I don’t know what to think about it. It will be nicer, but it won’t be the Boone I grew up in anymore. You did OK.

What did we miss?

  • Infilling of neighborhoods close to campus
  • Impact of commercial development on adjacent established residential neighborhoods.
  • Walks above ground to view mountains from downtown!
  • Preserve night views with directed down lights!
  • Underground utilities were a high priority for every group in the opening session – no mention tonight.
  • Because ASU freshmen are required to live on campus, we should ban their cars thus eliminating ¼ of the campus traffic – sophomores, too. Many cities do!!!
  • Please look at the area behind the hospital and Boone Golf Course known as Kellwood.

Other Comments

  • Concerned about 6-7 story buildings on Howard destroying character of downtown
  • Concern about eliminating parking requirements downtown without creating deck or decks
  • If Boone wants the new roads, we have to be ready to receive the cars – there has to be ways to preserve the views as well as include more property.
  • Run Daniel Boone Parkway straight across from Wilson Ridge Rd directly to 321.
  • Seems very modern. That’s ok, but some are tearing down places that should be torn down, but makes it too large. Boone is a small town. We maybe should keep it that way for a while. (Not too much, but no skyscraper – 4 story, 5, 6??) Not your typical Boone. Don’t know about it.
  • Make sure affordable/workforce housing is an integral component.
  • Make UDO change recommendations ASAP.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Day 5 - Detail, detail, detail

Though there were no scheduled public meetings today, the studio experienced a steady stream of visitors. In addition, we met with a geologist who helped us better understand the fault line that runs through the center of the old High School campus. Using this information, we produced plan #6 for that site - we designed a mixed-use center that included some major big boxes as anchors in a multi-story format supported by lots of street-level retail shops, housing, and parking decks.

The closing presentation will be held at the Broyhill Conference Center at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, October 28th.

Don't forget to complete the public opinion survey. The Mast General Store has graciously donated a $50 gift card that will be given away at the closing presentation.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Day 4 - More Drawings and Ideas

While there were no formal public meetings scheduled today, there were plenty of people who stopped by the studio and shared their thoughts and visions for various aspects of the plan. The team continued to refine suggestions for various transportation initiatives, prepared new conceptual plan for typical development sites, and created a plan for the old high school site showing a very intense mixed-use plan.

Tomorrow, the team will be busy preparing for the evening pin-up session at 5:30, the last of the charrette before the closing presentation next Tuesday at 5:30 at the Broyhill Conference Center.

Don't forget to complete the public opinion survey. The Mast General Store has graciously donated a $50 gift card that will be given away at the closing presentation.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day 3 - Housing, Development and the Neighborhoods

The crowds continued to turn out for the charrette with another 200+ interested citizens, students, and key stakeholders participating in meetings today discussing workforce housing, development, student housing, and the neighborhoods. Without a doubt there was overwhelming consensus that the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), the town's zoning and development manual needs some significant updating. Also there was clear consensus that there needs to be an active, coordinated effort to provide a wider range of housing types, styles, and prices particularly in the price range below $250,000. Key recommendations or discussion topics included:

  • The creation of a separate non-profit organization to focus on workforce housing, possibly in cooperation with ASU.
  • Providing a clear, predictable development process that is sensitive to both mixed-use development and redevelopment.
  • Protecting new housing aimed at families and professional from becoming student housing.
  • Locating student close to campus and along transit routes (and making the housing transit friendly)
  • Providing a pro-active neighborhood planning process to facilitate expectations for improvements including pedestrian and bicycle improvements, infill development, and adjacency issues.
  • The completion of a full and comprehensive plan for the Kraut Creek corridor from the downtown to its crossing of 321. Note: The charrette produced a preliminary assessment and a series of recommended tools for improving various segments.

Today was also the last day of formal meetings. Tomorrow, the team will turn it attention to some infill housing opportunities, overall growth issues and where Boone will grow, and the completion of an urban design plan for the downtown among many other projects.

There will be an open studio Thursday and Friday and the public is invited to drop in at their leisure with any ideas or comments as well as to see the progress. Like tonight, there will also be a public pin-up session at 5:30 pm both Thursday and Friday.

Don't forget to fill out the survey. Everyone who participates in the survey will be entered in a raffle for a prize from the Mast General Store to be given away at the closing presentation next Tuesday night, October 28th.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day 2 Filled with Walking Around Downtown, Cars, and Trails

Day 2 started with a with a walking tour of the downtown with over 60 students, residents and merchants and ended with a packed room talking about town and gown relations and common issues. In between, we also managed to squeeze more than 150 folks into various discussions related to transportation (motorized and non-motorized) and open space. The attendance remains high and the enthusiasm and energy is even higher.

Ideas discussed on Day 2 include:
  • Key strategies for improvements to the downtown including signage & wayfinding, infill & redevelopment, new street furnishings and streetscapes, and a downtown park.
  • Potential alternate alignments for the planned but unfunded Daniel Boone Parkway
  • Proposed local and collector street connections and improvements to improve overall connectivity
  • Highest priority routes for sidewalks, bike paths and lanes, and greenways
  • A conceptual assessment of the Kraut Creek with opportunities for improvements

Today was also the first day for the design team to begin pinning up some ideas for changes that reflect the community's vision. Those designs included:

  • Possible infill buildings on King Street and Howard Street in the downtown
  • Redevelopment of a strip shopping center into an urban, walkable development
  • Various redevelopment scenarios for the Old High School site

Tomorrow's meetings include discussions about Workforce Housing, Real Estate and Development, and Student Housing. Another pinup session will be held at 5:30 pm followed by a meeting of neighborhood leaders at 6:30.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Day 1 Begins with Great Attendance!

The Town of Boone Land Use Plan Charrette began with more than 150 community members in attendance at 4 different meetings throughout the day. Meetings included discussions of environmental protection and sustainability, utility infrastructure and alternative energy, Kraut Creek and Boone Creek improvements, and rejuvenating the commercial corridors. Among some of the key recommendations by the public today are:

  • Focus on the comprehensive restoration of Kraut/Boone Creek
  • Investigate opportunities for capturing rain water and water conservation through regulations and incentives
  • Consider alternate pavement types that permit infiltration
  • Implement a comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian master plan to lessen the impact of the automobile
  • Focus efforts on redeveloping existing property and discourage new development in the greenfields
  • Accommodate and encourage new forms of alternative energy including wind, solar, and biomass
  • Complete a comprehensive stormwater management plan with a specific focus on lessening flooding in Kraut/Boone Creek particularly around the Boone Mall
  • Improve the aesthetics in the commercial corridors including lighting and landscaping
  • Consider increasing height limitation in certain areas based on topography (low lying areas) such as Howard Street, Hardin Avenue, and Blowing Rock Road and targeted redevelopment areas
  • Reduce minimum parking requirements

There is much more to follow tomorrow with a walking tour/placemaking assessment of Downtown, and conversations about transportation, open space, and town/gown issues. In addition, we will have our first pinup session at 5:30 pm to share some detailed design opportunities throughout the community that implement some of the public recommendations using site-specific plans.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Community Turns out for Boone 2030 Kickoff

More than 80 members of the greater Boone community attended the public kickoff on Wednesday night, October 15, 2008 at the Broyhill Conference Center. For a link to the full story from the Watauga Democrat, click here. After a short presentation by Craig Lewis of The Lawrence Group, the participants broke into 7 small discussion groups. Each group was asked the following three questions:

1. What do you value about Boone?
2. In 2030, how would you like to describe Boone?
3. What changes would you most like to see?

The highest ranked changes are listed below:
  • More Efficient Transportation Patterns & Parking Opportunities
  • Developing More Opportunities for Community Interactions such as Farmer’s Market, Cultural Center, Neighborhood Associations
  • Sensible and Fair Rules for Development & Economic Opportunities
  • Protecting and Enhancing Environment for Appropriate Use
  • Safe, Affordable Housing Opportunities for ALL
  • Responsible Mixed-Use Development
  • Watershed and Stormwater Management
  • Predictable Development Planning & Process
  • More Multi-Modal Route Options
  • Extend Mixed-Use/Stop Sprawl
  • Variety of Housing
  • Attract New High/Green Tech Jobs
  • Design Guidelines – Colors, Materials, Art, Aesthetics
  • Greenway Systems Pedestrian & Bikes & Creeks
  • Smart Growth Incentive Package by Right
  • Incorporate Common Sense
  • Daniel Boone Parkway
The complete results of that public workshop are posted here. The next steps for the consultant team and the community are to translate those visions and values into implementable and detailed strategies and plans for shaping the built and natural environment over the next 20 years. The bulk of that work will take place during the 5 day public planning and design charrette to be held at the Best Western on East King Street during the week of October 20-24. A closing presentation with a summary of the preliminary recommendations will be on October 28th at the Broyhill Conference Center.

If you can't stop by the design charrette studio, please be sure to take our online survey or leave your comments on this site.

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How to be like Boulder

At the kickoff meeting we introduced this photo from downtown Boulder that exemplified the intersection of the natural habitat with the human habitat. It was a picture of Boulder Creek flowing past the Dushanbe Tea House. Boulder, in fact, might serve as a great model for a university community in the mountains (like Boone) for many initiatives. More than 30 years ago, they made a decision to guide and control their destiny through better planning.

According to Boulder, Colorado's web site "Boulder is located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, just 35 miles northwest of Denver. Home of the University of Colorado's main campus and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder sits 5,430 feet above sea level and is surrounded by a greenbelt of city trails and open spaces. Boulder is known for its natural beauty, outdoor recreation, natural product retailers and restaurants, outstanding alternative transportation options, diverse businesses, and technological and academic resources.

Could this be Boone in 20 years? The article below is from a posting on the web site of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP)by Martha Roskowski and Marni Ratzel of Boulder transportation department (also known as Go Boulder).

How to be like Boulder
People visit Boulder, CO. to check out its bicycling and walking system. Some leave inspired to change their communities; others think, “Well, it works in Boulder, but it will never fly back home.” The reality lies somewhere in between. Boulder has built-in advantages–call it “good bones”–and for 20 years it has made a significant commitment in resources and priorities. Still, any community can make things better, and the time to start is now. These are some ways to be like Boulder.

Be a college town. It creates a built-in population less inclined to drive, more educated, and often more progressive.

Have a growth boundary. Boulder began buying open space in the late 1960s and has amassed 43,000 acres that serve as a physical buffer around the city. The city also collaborates with Boulder County on a forward-thinking comprehensive plan which focuses growth within existing city boundaries. As a result, most of Boulder’s new development is in-fill, which increases density and allows Boulder to spend its dollars on providing transportation choices rather than building new roads to serve sprawling developments.

Have a really good plan. The Boulder City Council adopted its first transportation master plan1 in the late 1980s. The council looked at what would be needed, financially, physically and in quality of life, to continue to expand the roadway system. It said, “Nope, that’s not for us,” and decided to provide mobility not through new roads, but through a wide array of transportation choices that make it easy not to drive. Later revisions to the plan set audacious goals of keeping vehicle miles traveled (VMT) to 1994 levels and having only 25% of trips made in single occupancy vehicles by 2025. A VMT graph updated in 2007 shows Boulder is close to keeping that line flat. Boulder adopted the concept of complete streets in 2003, with a commitment to accommodate all modes on major corridors.

Put the plan into action. Boulder has a strong transit system with buses running on 10-minute frequencies on several major corridors, and 30,000 transit trips a day in a community of 100,000 people. Since 1989, the city has added, on average, one mile of off-street path, a half-mile of on-street bicycle lane, and two underpasses a year. Today, Boulder has over 100 miles of multi-use pathway with 74 underpasses; 95% of major arterials have bicycle lanes or adjacent pathways.

Get some political support. People in Boulder are active, engaged and like to debate everything. As a result, most significant projects are controversial. Projects often get scaled back or require additional investment to find a compromise, but the City Council moves most projects forward. Bicycle advocates help, but elected officials lead on these issues.

Redefine the problem. How can Boulder’s transportation engineers–many from traditional engineering backgrounds–cheerfully and routinely design innovative and effective multi-modal projects? Michael Gardner-Sweeney, Boulder’s Transportation Planning and Operations Coordinator, says, “Engineers are problem solvers. If the problem is to move as many cars as possible through an intersection, that’s what they’ll do. If you define the problem differently, you get different results.” Boulder has redefined the problem as moving people in a multi-modal system emphasizing bicycles, pedestrians and transit. This mindset has been institutionalized throughout the city’s transportation division.

Sweat the details. Residents love Boulder’s pathway system, which includes numerous side paths. Instead of focusing on the dangers, Boulder addresses the safety issues. A recent state DOT analysis of bicycle- and pedestrian-related crashes shows that the side paths do not have higher crash rates than the on-street system. That’s due to a combination of innovative treatments, such as raised right turn bypass islands and careful signage, and the reality that bicyclists are expected users.

Fix your mistakes. The eastern half of Boulder was developed after 1950, with the same lousy combination of superblocks, strip malls, shopping centers, big parking lots and intimidating arterials as most cities across the country. Boulder’s trying to fix that. The city’s biggest street will be converted into a complete street, with bicycle lanes, transit improvements, pedestrian-actuated crossing signals and pathways as appropriate and possible. It remains a big street, but now can be navigated on a bicycle or on foot with more comfort. Changing land use takes longer, but the city is working to reduce the number of curb cuts, bring buildings back up to the street, and break up superblocks through redevelopment. There are bicycle lanes in the Target parking lot, which connect through the adjacent shopping area to link to greenway paths in either direction. A big grocer has been asked to make his parking access function more like a local street. These solutions are incremental and not elegant, but every bit helps.

Do something cool. In the mid-1980s, Boulder City Council directed staff to build a small section of path along Boulder Creek in the downtown area. It was a hit, and the public clamored for more. That bit of pathway helped launch the Greenway System, a program with many goals including riparian protection and flood mitigation. The trail includes a spine pathway along Boulder Creek and connecting paths along its six tributaries.

Don’t ignore the soft side. Although people in Boulder can travel by bicycle with relative comfort and often quicker than by car, there isn’t yet an Amsterdam-level of bicycling. So the city works hard on encouragement and education, partnering with the school district on Safe Routes to School, strengthening Walk & Bike Month, launching GOBikeBoulder, an interactive bicycle routing Web site, and piloting an individualized marketing program. Boulder has a network of 400 employee transportation coordinators at local businesses, is looking at a Velib-style bicycle rental system, and wants to institute Sunday Parkways. Many more trips could be made by bicycle, but changing the American mindset is difficult, even in Boulder.

There is no silver bullet or even a silver shotgun. But Boulder’s working on it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Walking in Boone

Just how walkable is Boone? Many college towns like Boone have piles of students and faculty walking and biking around their community because it is frankly just easier than trying to find a place to park. But how easy is it to do other things on foot? Can you buy groceries or pick up dinner as a pedestrian? Using, we evaluated the "potential" walkability for each neighborhood and major residential area in Boone.

According to their web site "Walk Score helps people find walkable places to live. Walk Score calculates the walkability of an address by locating nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc. Walk Score measures how easy it is to live a car-lite lifestyle—not how pretty the area is for walking."

The Walk Score is a number between 0 and 100. Here are general guidelines for interpreting the score:
90–100 = Walkers' Paradise: Most errands can be accomplished on foot and many people get by without owning a car.
70–89 = Very Walkable: It's possible to get by without owning a car.
50–69 = Somewhat Walkable: Some stores and amenities are within walking distance, but many everyday trips still require a bike, public transportation, or car.
25–49 = Car-Dependent: Only a few destinations are within easy walking range. For most errands, driving or public transportation is a must.
0–24 = Car-Dependent (Driving Only): Virtually no neighborhood destinations within walking range. You can walk from your house to your car!

The results may surprise you. Download the Boone Walkscore Map here. In fact, a number of in-town neighborhoods scored remarkably well, but there is a big footnote to add. As noted above, Walkscore uses an algorithm that gathers information from Google Earth's extensive inventory of places such as churches, schools, restaurants, and shopping areas. We call these destinations. But, what this score does not incorporate to is the journey. It only looks at how far you live from goods and services (destinations) as the crow flies and does not evaluate the site conditions - the presence of a sidewalk or the area's topography - from point A to point B.

So is this map still useful? Absolutely! We contend that this map can serve as the basis for future pedestrian improvements by prioritizing where the Town will get the biggest bang for their buck. A sidewalk inventory is being completed by the Town and will be overlaid with this information to show us where the gaps are. Then, Boone can begin to make investments in areas with the highest potential pedestrian activity.

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