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Parking recommendations, sufficient input among concerns about Downtown Main Street plan

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Locals on Wednesday expressed a concern for parking availability and insufficient input from local business owners on during the first public input meeting for the proposed two-phased Downtown Main Street plan.

The plan aims to restripe the roadway, modify parking angles and beautify the downtown area with more curb appeal.

Salisbury Urban Design Planner Alyssa Nelson and Senior Landscape Architect Dan Lambert, of McAdams Landscape Architecture and Engineering firm, presented Salisbury City Council members on Dec. 1 with the early renderings of a multi-phased streetscape plan for 10 blocks along Salisbury’s Main Street. One part of the plan involves re-striping, while the other includes a vision for sidewalks and parking improvements.

The plan was presented again during Wednesday’s meeting of the city’s Community Appearance Commission.

The area in the plan — formulated from guidance from the North Carolina DOT, Downtown Salisbury Inc., city staff and local residents — spans from the Monroe Street intersection with South Main Street to the railroad tracks on North Main Street. The purpose of the plan is to make infrastructure improvements for parking, lighting, curbs and gutters and storm system sewers.

Another part of the project includes North Carolina DOT’s resurfacing of downtown streets, which is scheduled sometime between March and November, city staff told city council members last month.

In 2019, the city formally hired McAdams Landscape Architecture and Engineering. Lambert has worked on street improvement projects in Colorado, Arizona and on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as well as streetscape improvements in Durham, Raleigh and Greensboro.

Early stages of the plan process included public input via online surveys and in-person events, which led to the creation of a “heat map” to assess the most visited areas along the 10-block span. A site analysis and traffic study were then conducted to assess connections between existing parking areas and pedestrian zones in an effort to emphasize the strong points and take a look at what areas need to be stronger, Lambert told council members.

These studies led to the idea of dropping the four-lane profile with the steep angle for parking that’s currently in place, and moving to a three-lane model with a shallower parking angle. The ideal plan also included pedestrian enhancements that narrow the overall path, while maintaining the functionality of the area.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Nelson said the current parking angles sit at around 30 degrees, but NCDOT prefers 45-degree angles because they can fit more vehicles.

Hugo Correa, who serves on the Community Appearance Commission, suggested the idea of a parking deck because many people will be “scrambling on the same space.”

Nelson said that idea has been discussed but did not elaborate further on whether it could be a possibility.

The plan will include left turn lanes throughout the entire corridor, with designated areas for bus stops and unloading zones. As one travels farther north in the corridor, parking will transition from diagonal on both sides to a split of diagonal parking on one side and parallel parking on the other.

Parallel parking would be on both sides in the area between Monroe Street to Horah Street, with left turn lanes in both directions. Trees, lights and furnishings would exist within the first five feet from the curb, with 15 additional feet of sidewalk.

Then, when moving to the area between Bank and Fisher streets, parallel parking would be on one side and diagonal parking on the other, with five fewer feet from the curb in that area.

Diagonal parking would be included for both sides from Fisher Street to Innes Street, which allows for a higher volume of parking as there is more activity in this area. The area would include 15-feet sidewalk and furnishing zones.

Moving farther north, from Kerr Street to Cemetery Street, there would be no additional parking. However, the area allows for about 7 feet of room for bike lanes.

Pam Coffield, owner of The Stitchin’ Post Gifts, said while implementing crosswalks with concrete is a nice idea, she couldn’t support the plan as proposed as more than half a dozen parking spots would be removed along the 100 block of South Main Street — a concern she said customers and delivery drivers already raise to her.

“What we’ve had works,” she said. “It’s too aggressive of a change.”

At the council meeting, Mayor Karen Alexander said the map included too many loading zones in parking areas, and that blocking off existing spots for loading may be a better idea.

But Lambert told Alexander those issues were addressed when formulating the plan. The implementation of loading zones are targeted for blocks that don’t have easy alleyway access. Additionally, companies like UPS and Amazon make deliveries all throughout the day, he added.

Local Samuel McNeely said he likes the design of the plan, but that architects should discuss further with business owners how the improvements and additions will affect them and their businesses.

Nelson said many of them have discussed the planes one-on-one with business owners, but that city staff will continue talking to more business owners for feedback.

Salisbury Planning Director Hannah Jacobson said city staff and DSI will have to implement some assistance for small business owners during the construction period.

Wednesday’s meeting of the city’s Community Appearance Commission was the first of at least six meetings scheduled to receive community feedback on the proposed plan. Upcoming virtual opportunities to provide feedback via Zoom are scheduled for the Jan. 13 meeting of the Greenway Committee at 5 p.m., the Jan. 21 meeting of the Neighborhood Leaders Alliance at 4 p.m. as well as Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. Locals can visit us02web.zoom.us/j/84157323179 for the Jan. 21 meeting, and us02web.zoom.us/j/85452162365 for the Jan. 27 meeting.

Three outdoor, in-person public engagement meetings are scheduled for Jan. 14 in the City Hall back lobby before the Historic Preservation Committee meets at 1 p.m.; Jan. 22 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Koco Java on North Main Street; and Jan. 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. near Sidewalk Deli on South Main Street. Those outdoor events are dependent upon weather conditions.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the current parking angle in the downtown area sits at 60 degrees. Alyssa Nelson, the city’s Urban Design Planner, told the Post on Thursday that current parking angles are at 30 degrees. The story has also been updated to reflect an additional public input meeting opportunity.

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