Nelson downtown amenity areas get facelift
The 400 block of Baker Street was closed off Tuesday morning as City of Nelson crews made a significant change to the downtown amenity areas.
“We’re opening up the amenity areas,” said city manager Kevin Cormack, who was on scene just before 9 a.m. to survey the work.“This was called for in the Downtown Waterfront Plan. The consultants [who prepared the plan] looked at what we had done in the amenity areas and thought they were great that we had them, but felt that putting those planter boxes in front took away from what we were trying to do which is open that sidewalk to a more lively space.”
The amenity areas were constructed in 1981 as part of the downtown revitalization. The stone planter boxes closed off the cove on either side of the street.
Cormack said the planter boxes acted as a barrier to those walking down the street.
“Those planter boxes distanced the amenity area from the activity of what was going on down the sidewalk,” he said.
Though Cormack would not say the change happened because of loitering issues that have been brought before council by downtown businesses, Justin Pelant of Ted Allen’s Jewellery said that is “100 per cent” the reason.
“I think initially no,” Pelant said when asked if the amenity areas, as they were designed, created issues in the downtown. “But I think the final outcome was that it did create problems. People could kind of hide out on the inside of these areas and were somewhat protected.
“There was a call for something to be done to the amenity areas. I think it’s a nice step by the City to listen to the business community to see if this makes it work better.”
Cormack said getting rid of the planter boxes in the amenity areas did not specifically come before council, but was part of the action approved by politicians to implement the Downtown Waterfront Plan. The cost of the work Tuesday morning is considered an “opportunity cost” that does not show up as a budget line item.
This summer, Cormack said the City might attempt some programming in the now much larger spaces, which could include music, performance and art.
“We are looking at the Sculpture Walk in Castlegar and whether we should lease some of those sculptures and add them into the amenity areas,” Cormack said of one of the ideas being floated around.
For a glimpse at the construction of the amenity areas, click here to see a video.