An Oct. 9 community meeting called by Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid at the Crown Heights Christian Church featured presentations by city officials from public works, transit and planning. Institute for Quality Communities director Blair Humphreys also spoke.
The corridor has been the site of several disputes brought to city officials over the past two months, most involving traffic and parking problems.
“The corridor is very complex. It’s growing quickly,” Shadid said. “There’s decades-long neighborhoods in existence, and then we’re trying to have this urban infill development along the corridor.”
Under a 2007 bond issue, the area on Western from N.W. 36th to N.W. 63rd is set to have a redesigned streetscape, with $1.3 million allotted for improvements.
A proposal floated during the meeting, however, would modify plans for the section between N.W. 41st and N.W. 47th. If the community decides to go forward, there likely would be a project delay of about six months in the area between N.W. 36th and N.W. 51st, according to city Public Works Director Eric Wenger.
Under the would-be proposal, Humphreys and architecture students at the University of Oklahoma, where Humphreys is an assistant professor, would work on a plan to make additional improvements using “placemaking” elements. Both the current and alternative plans would then be presented to the community.
Placemaking is loosely defined as what happens when urban design, community facilitation and economic development come together to make an area a destination for people.
“It’s everything that happens there.
It’s not just the traffic; it’s not just the sidewalk; it’s how it’s knitted together,” Humphreys said. “Placemaking leads to long-term value over time.”
The proposal faces some hurdles, not the least of which is finding money for it. Shadid said he is confident that the city could come up with the funding, possibly through its next bond issue or the rainy day fund.
Should Humphreys’ group proceed, Shadid said the city will provide $25,000 to the Institute for Quality Communities for its work.
If not, plans for the baseline improvements already exist and are ready to go, Wenger said. That project should take between 18 and 24 months to complete.
Humphreys and his team would bring forward a plan that may include outdoor dining spaces, public art and improved pedestrian access. Those interested in offering input can email Shadid at firstname.lastname@example.org.