By Jesse Wood
The Boone Town Council agreed to hold a charrette for community members and stakeholders to offer input and for planning representatives to answer questions regarding improvements to West Howard Street.
This past week, the Boone Town Council received a recently completed feasibility study that recommends turning the entire downtown stretch of Howard Street – not the portion that runs behind Legends nightclub – into a westbound, one-way street and Appalachian Street into a southbound, one-way street.
Under this scenario, the study also recommends adding pedestrian signals and an optimized traffic signal to accommodate future traffic volumes. It also notes that this proposal would benefit pedestrians.
The proposal is not without critics. Fulton Lovin, who owns Pads for Grads, which is located at the corner of Howard and Appalachian streets, recently penned a letter to the Town of Boone officials stating that this change would clog up traffic in downtown even more so than it is today.
On Thursday, a couple business/property owners along Howard Street spoke during public comment about the project. While Colton Lenz, owner of The Local said he disagreed with all of Howard Street being one way, Pete Catoe, owner of ECRS, handed the council a petition with signatures from downtown business owners requesting a public workshop for the public, particularly those that frequent that area on a regular basis, to “have a say.”
“I really feel like we all want the same thing,” Catoe said, adding that the “lines of communication” needs to be open.
While Councilwoman Jennifer Pena said she liked the recommended proposal, Pena said that she would like to hear more from the public on this study and project.
Councilwoman Lynne Mason suggested the charrette, and her fellow board members liked the idea.
Town Manager John Ward said that he would talk with Davenport Engineering, Inc. representatives to see what days they would be available in the future, so that they could attend and answer any questions the public may have with the proposal.
Ward mentioned that he would come back to the council with a list of dates for the council to choose from.
See more about this study here.
The Town of Boone has been trying to improve Howard Street for at least two decades now. One of the hurdles was that the town couldn’t secure all of the easements for an elaborate transformation of Howard Street that was estimated to cost at least $4.5 million.
In 2011, the Town of Boone implemented one-way traffic and a pedestrian path on Howard Street from Depot Street to Water Street. At the time, this was reported as temporary, and later a thinner pedestrian walkway was added from Depot Street to Appalachian Street.
Without being able to secure all of the right-of-way easements, the Boone Town Council scaled down its intentions and entered into a contract with Glave & Homes Architecture to provide concept drawings for the Howard Street improvement project in August 2012. In October 2013, the town reviewed the drawings and requested this referenced study conducted by Davenport Engineering, Inc.
The Downtown Boone Development Association sent out an email to DBDA members regarding a study that Mark Bridges, a graduate student in the Dept. of Technology and Environmental Design at ASU, is conducting on the West Howard Street corridor in Boone. Here is Bridges’ email regarding the study and associated anonymous survey.
Dear Downtown Boone Development Association Member:
I am a graduate student in the Department of Technology and Environmental Design at Appalachian State University conducting a study of the West Howard Street corridor in Boone. I am conducting this study as a capstone requirement of my program, and not on behalf of the University or the Town of Boone. I am aware that prior studies and analyses of this corridor have been conducted and this study does not attempt to build on that prior work, but represents a “status report” on this corridor. The findings of my study will be made available to my academic advisors and to the DBDA. I can also provide you with an electronic copy of my report, once completed, upon request (my contact information is below).
My study involves a review of prior analyses of the Howard Street corridor, a visual and observational inventory of the corridor, and surveys of downtown business owners; ASU students, faculty, and staff; and Town of Boone residents. I have asked the DBDA to send a link to my online survey to its members, and request that you follow the link to my survey, which should take you no more than five minutes to complete. The survey is anonymous.
Please complete the survey by no later than Wednesday, April 22, 2015.
Thank you for your cooperation.