The Downtown Revitalization Committee held an open forum Monday and Tuesday to discuss what the community wants as the city progresses with its downtown and Block 17 revitalization.
A small group of about 40 people met at the community center with five urban planning consultants from across the country.
The planners, Wayne Fieden, Ashley Alliss, Coutenay Mercer, Ryan Wozniak and Eric Roach, with American Planning Association, gathered ideas and data from the citizen and they’ll pass that information to the mayor, city council and city manager to help them flesh out their plan for downtown.
During their time in Page the five planners also did a walk through Page observing tourist, traffic and business patterns.
“We love the bones of what Page has.” said Alliss.
Fieden added, “You have a great foundation for [improvements].”
During Monday’s and Tuesday’s community input sessions Page residents had a chance to visit with each planner, who sat at tables throughout the room. At the tables participants were asked
1. My favorite place downtown is…?
2. What I like about Downtown is…?
3. My wish for Downtown is…?
4. I would volunteer to do….?
5. I would walk or bike if….?
6. Visitors would stay an extra day if…?
An aerial map of Block 17 was provided for each table to see how Block 17 is laid out and bit by bit each space was highlighted for ideas on improvements. One major concern for the improvements was directed at the building owners and how to interface with them to carry out the revitalization. Many business owners do not want to spend the money, or put it in the hands of the business owner who is renting space, to improve the look of their business. It was suggested that a grant be made available to help owners pay for improvements especially where safety was an issue in front of stores.
Some of the main concerns brought up by citizens was how to address the traffic on Lake Powell Boulevard, and what could be done to improve the curve around Church Circle where drivers tend to speed.
Another common suggestion the planners received was better use of the unused parking lots and empty business spaces. Mercer suggested the unused parking lot spaces could benefit a new business or vendor/festival. Mercer also pointed out the design of both buildings held a direct path to the park but a gate blocks the link to the city park in the middle of the Safeway shopping center. Access to the park, once Block 17 is complete, will be a vital part of the plan but the concern is getting the owners of the Safeway shopping center to help improve access since the gate went up to prevent nefarious activity and transient loitering.
Some Pageites told the planners they’d like to see the city get pro-active in providing activities that locals would enjoy, and not get focused solely on what the tourists want.
Another idea made by Kay Luem, representing the Coconino Community College, was iconic street art up and down main street and a citywide theme that tied in a tourist appeal to walk through the city. She made several suggestions for a 1960’s theme and the people at the table found that a 1960’s architecture and décor was possible since several business still had their original signage and décor such as Mesa theatre, RD’s and Starlight restaurant.
Also on the wish list was for the Rimview Trail to be improved for mountain biking. The wish list for other outdoor activities were made while suggesting that hotels/motels and bed and breakfast establishments train their front desk employees to recite a list of local activities for tourists or have the business provide a map of places of things to do which several felt the city could help accomplish.
Other issues were addressed on solutions surrounding homelessness and border town problems. There were afterthought discussions on how to tie in tribal solutions but without knowledge of how it works many hoped more Native American representatives had participated to gain a more improved look at the demographics of Page.
The second day of the DRC community meeting streamlined the suggestions and allowed for final thoughts before a submittal to City Council.
Plans for the Block 17 and maps of how the improvements will look like when complete can be found at the cityofpage.org.