Note: At the retirement of our long time Executive Director Vickie Chambers, and a several week long recruitment search, the Historic Waterfront Assoc. Board of Directors hired Coupeville resident Rainy Simpson as our new Executive Director in July.
You can read more about Vickie’s retirement and Rainy at the “Welcoming Rainy Simpson – Our new Executive Director” blog post published on July 26th, and on our Annual Review page.
Greetings Members, Merchants, Building Owners and Friends of Coupeville and our Association,
Samantha Lorenz, a Walkability Specialist and Built Environment Director, was the special guest and presenter at our August 19th open meeting. Samantha shared her expertise on assisting historic districts in our state through the Washington Main Street program “Place Activation”. Samantha stated in her presentation that “The design of public spaces (e.g. streets and plazas) directly impacts and influences economic vitality and quality of life of Main Streets and historic districts.
Samantha is not foreign to Coupeville. Living in Port Townsend, Samantha has visited Coupeville many times. In relation to her work she did a presentation for us during a 2019 Washington Main Street conference (held in Seattle) when we hosted a group of fellow Main Street leaders from Wyoming here in Coupeville. During that visit Samantha toured our historic district’s street’s with us and our Wyoming guests to help us understand troubling traffic flow, lack of parking, promotion of walkability, and the potential solutions she could see from the street. It was very interesting and something people present still talk about today.
Our August meeting, described below, really sparked good potential in helping determine if there’s consensus among members, property owners and Coupeville residents on these important safety and parking issues and within our historic district.
Stating in her presentation that “The design of public spaces (e.g. streets and plazas) directly impacts and influences economic vitality and quality of life of Main Streets and historic districts” Samantha lead our meeting to some very interesting ideas and possibilities.
Samantha encouraged members to share their personal vision for Front St. Here’s some of what we heard.
- Pedestrian centric. People brought in from parking elsewhere.
- Boardwalk instead of sidewalks.
- Increased pedestrian friendly environment. Closed to vehicles on the weekends and one-way during the week.
- More outdoor dining.
- Cars off Front St. (Maybe underground parking at Town Green).
- No parking during the day.
- Vibrant pedestrian friendly gathering place.
- More gathering areas. More outdoor/ mixed weather spaces.
- An inviting and welcoming space for people to gather that facilitates varied uses.
- Power Poles gone. Lines underground, human scale street lights.
- Historic properties preserved and housing vibrant businesses. Overall sense of economic vitality.
- More pedestrian friendly (benches, trees). Welcome to locals as well as visitors. Outdoor restaurants.
- Vehicle free Front St. 11 am to 8 pm every day.
- Shared street. Time limited parking.
- Increased safety. Pedestrian vs. vehicles.
- Thoughtful community building. Great working relationships with other community groups.
- A welcoming space for both residents and visitors.
- Picnic tables in the middle of the street.
- Wider sidewalks.
- A vibrant economically viable gathering place for locals and visitors.
- Wider sidewalks, outdoor cafes, people talking and walking, impromptu shows in front of the museum.
- Remain an asset not just in support of tourism, but to the locals who live here.
- Retain the cultural historic sense and part of the Cultural Whidbey Historic District.
- Timed parking.
- Make the north end of Grace St. into a mini park.
- Angle parking on the southside.
- Eliminate west exit from Rec. Hall parking lot.
- Create another mini park.
- Gain parking space on Alexander.
- Make the parking lot one-way and reserve parking spaces on the south side of the parking lot.
- Reclaim the town’s vacant lot on Main and Coveland as public green space.
- Pavement to Plazas. Capitalizing on the corner where Vickie sets up streateries.
- One way West.
- Larger public deck.
- More outdoor dining. No parking. Just a people street with picnic tables in the middle.
Next with Samantha’s guidance the group discussed potential pilot projects to address areas of the vision that seemed to align with a shared vision. Potential projects were listed on chart paper around the room and members were encouraged to put round blue and or red stickers next to the projects that spoke to them.
Through that process there seemed to be a lot of consensus around the following:
- Establishing a Grace St. Parklet with tables and benches.
- One way Front St. with wider sidewalks.
- Visually reducing the speed on Coveland, a traffic calming opportunity.
Samantha encouraged everyone at the meeting and community partner organizations represented at the meeting to work together on an incremental project. For example: A 90 day use of temporary materials (paint, planter boxes and chairs) to experience a new project at a low risk. Discover what works and make modifications.
The meeting convened with a general sense that a 90 day Grace St. Parklet is a project to pursue with partners. There was additional discussion around a potential trial weekend of no parking on Front St.
Thank you to Samantha, our members, and partner organization representatives who were able to attend this meeting. We look forward to more discussion and team work to address the issues of pedestrian safety and parking in our historic district. Stay tuned.
*Please note this was a brainstorming and consensus gathering meeting. We welcome your feedback.
Rainy Simpson, Executive Director