Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Downtown Plaza Called "Beautiful, Inviting"

It's cold outside, and the trees have no leaves, but the new Downtown Plaza at the corner of Main and Lombard Streets is still attracting a lot of attention.

And, it's getting praise from some downtown merchants.

"I've already seen people enjoying it--families, kids," said Vincent Walsh, owner of a downtown jewelry store. "My wife and I think it's a beautiful park. We're really surprised it came out as well as it did."

Tracey Taylor, who works in an office downtown, says the new Plaza "is very inviting." "That's something we needed, something that looked inviting," Taylor said. "I like it."

The Plaza, a tree-covered sanctuary with beautiful sidewalks, benches, greenery and design, includes 30 premium parking spaces. The $300,000 project, designed by Ashley Grady of G2 Design, is being funded through a $310,000 easement fee for a communications tower at the Operations Center property.

"We were pleased to use a one-time revenue to fund a capital project, because diverting such revenues to operating expenses can create future year financial stress," explained Town Manager Steve Biggs. "We were also able to avoid the debt service that would have been associated with borrowing funds to perform the project."

Pat West, a technical writer who rents office space directly across from the Plaza, says the beauty of the new downtown "centerpiece" is sure to boost downtown business.

"I wanted to let you know I am very pleased with the design of the parking lot," he said. "Although the construction period was very trying sometimes, I got through the noise and the inconvenience by thinking how nice it would be when it was done--and it is! Although more parking spaces might have been provided by a more austere design, I believe that beauty itself, that making downtown a nice place to be aesthetically, will reap more foot traffic for our downtown businesses and more investment in the downtown area in general in the long run."

The Plaza incorporates granite installed on the site more than a hundred years ago as part of the old Ashley Horne home that once stood there. The project was long championed by Biggs and Mayor Jody McLeod as a way to help with downtown revitalization.

No comments: