Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 25th, 2011 at 3:43 pm
Director of PBOT Tom Miller told us today that he supports making a block of SW Ankeny Street carfree.
Miller said he met with business owner Dustin Knox yesterday and the two, "sketched out a potential pathway to success." Knox owns a bar on the stretch of Ankeny between SW 2nd and 3rd and he was featured in a story in Willamette Week on Wednesday. In that article, Knox said he and other business owners wanted more space for tables and chairs for their customers, but that people on the street are too cramped by cars. (This stretch of Ankeny is very narrow (therein lies its charm) and has a parking lane and one through lane.)
"We're not in the business of giving away a valuable resource... But we are in the business of helping businesses succeed."
— Tom Miller, Director of PBOT
Before making any changes, Miller says PBOT will do an evaluation of the street to determine the current traffic situation. He also made it clear to Knox that any change would have to come at no loss in revenue to the City. There are currently seven metered parking stalls on the block. Miller told us he wants to ensure the Bureau is compensated for any losses. "We're not in the business of giving away a valuable resource... But we are in the business of helping businesses succeed."
Miller has advised Knox to draft a letter of support for the idea and get it signed by all the business owners on the street.
There are still several details to work out, but Miller said "It's a superb idea" and he's "cautiously optimistic" PBOT can get it done. "My hope is it can be done by summer."
The type of change that occurs on Ankeny remains to be seen. Options include just making it carfree during the summer season, or even just closing it to motor vehicle traffic during the evenings. "We could do something as simple as putting up bollards on either end of the block and allow restaurants to put up tables in the street and go about their business."
No matter what happens, ADA access, stormwater management, and emergency vehicle access must be maintained.
For Miller, who doesn't officially take over his new role as PBOT Director until May 1st, this isn't just about responding to business owners, this is about managing the right-of-way with more than just cars in mind. "It's real estate," he told me today, "that can be managed in a variety of ways."
I asked him to share more about his perspective on that management role:
"PBOT is the largest landowner in the city. Our core responsibility is to move people and goods, but that should be understood comprehensively... We should be held to meeting our mission in a variety of ways. If this is an opportunity to get more return on community investment, than I like it. It's about maximizing the value of the community-held resource."
Stay tuned for more developments.