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Parking Plans for the Pocket Park Presented

Lamar Plaza Concept #3 with Concert Stage along East Beech Street

Now that the pocket park in downtown Lamar is four-fifths complete, the City is looking at development plans on the best use of the parking lots due east of the Main Street stores adjacent to the refurbished park and located between East Olive and East Beech Streets.

Lamar Concept #2 with Below Ground Concert Area

The City of Lamar acquired one lot directly opposite the Lamar Chamber of Commerce, on the corner of South 4th and East Beech.  The lot was topped several years ago and has been used for parking and as a host site for several displays associated with past Chamber activities.  That leaves the parking lot directly in back of the pocket park and the lot which borders Quiznos to the east, on the corner of East Olive and South 4th Streets.

Lamar Concept #1 with Concert Stage at Mid-Point on East Side of Parking Lot

Lamar City Administrator, John Sutherland, opened the viewing session with the idea to provide visitors to the community with a, “vibrant, green, welcoming and open area, something that would make visitors and residents alike, to want to linger longer in the downtown area.” Sutherland said that Lamar, as a Main Street Community, had made arrangements with the Department of Local Affairs to have planes developed for the parking lots which led to the afternoon meeting.

Jeffrey Wood, Architect and University Technical Assistance (UTA) Field Supervisor for the Colorado Center for Community Development, presented several designs from U.C. students for the three lots this past Wednesday, August 2nd at the Cultural Events Center.

Several designs were displayed at the public gathering which incorporated three basic elements into each presentation: a public restroom facility, a concert stage and a layout for public parking on each of the lots.  Each design had the restroom in a different location; near the rear pocket park entrance, at the north and south ends of the three lots and in one instance, underground, at the base of a centrally located concert stage on the edge of South 4th Street.

Wood said the idea was to be able to highlight planned activities to the rear of the businesses along Main Street in order to draw the public to them through music concerts or other social gatherings. The students provided background into the strengths of locating the ideas of a stage and restroom at various points in the block.  One recurring theme in the designs was a water tower, more for display and a focal point than for any practical use.

Two Main Street retailers, Sheila Smith and Melissa Bohl, offered criticisms of the plans which they estimated would not add any shopper increases to their businesses. Both felt the alleyway which runs behind their stores to Olive and Beech Streets would be better served by just paving it or widening it to allow for drop off delivers from their service trucks.  “No one uses Main Street for deliveries, especially with the construction underway,” said Bohl, who was concerned that the parking lot is full enough with cars and didn’t want to see any lost parking spots through the recommended changes.  Smith felt the same way as both believed the retail sector of Main Street could be better served if the parking lots were improved or expanded with no alterations as a gathering spot.  Both store owners pointed out that if events are planned for the parking lots to bring people downtown, the event will take up most of the existing, nearby parking spaces.

Bohl added, “I’ve seen a lot of people use my back door as a pass-through to get to Main Street from the rear lots. They don’t stop to shop, they just walk in the rear door and out the front.”  The hair salon, the book store and the antique store on the Main Street corner don’t have a rear door entry and the antique store is up for sale.  Brew Unto Others, next to the pocket park, has a rear access door from the alley, while Daylight Donuts has a rear door but only for employees.  The other businesses are service oriented.

Wood thanked them for their insight, commenting that these are first drawing concepts and are far from being a finished product. He felt that future sessions, at a time when more storeowners and citizens are available, would provide additional comments and ideas from which to develop more workable plans.

By Russ Baldwin

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