Cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-changes are happening in downtown GNV

I think Bo would approve. Looks like he already does.

Big changes going on in downtown GNV these days.

It looks like the eyesore concrete “Checkpoint Charlie” blocks that have kept traffic off a two-block stretch of SW 1st Ave for the past two or three years will soon be gone.

Installing bollards. And doing a little storm water remediation in the process.

Workers are busy replacing the monstrosities with stainless steel bollards. More than anything it is a sign that we as a city are done arguing over whether SW1st ought to be reopened to cars.

The loss of all those parking spaces will kill business, critics bemoaned. But maybe not.

It seems like only yesterday that the Ramen Noodles restaurant on SW 1st closed its doors. Fat Tuesday has already moved in.

The new bollards will give GNV’s street-for-people a sleeker, cleaner look. And it is fair to expect that even more organized people-magnet events will be held there.

Seems like it would be a perfect venue for a return of the downtown farmers market that we all miss so much.

BTW: Apropos of nothing at all: Does anybody know the story behind all those embedded horse shoes on SW 1st?

Just asking for a friend (Ed. But I call him Mr. Ed).

Meanwhile, there is sadder news on the same street just the other side of Main.

It seems that the big oak tree outside Harry’s is going to come down. Somebody tacked a farewell note to it. And the “Axman spare that tree” protestors seem to have conceded.

The City Commission had to make a choice between the tree, the safe passage of people along a narrow sidewalk, and the iron fence that separate Harry’s diners from panhandlers and such.

The commission’s decision was not unreasonable. But it might be short-sighted.

There is cause to be concerned about the ability of disabled walkers and wheelchair-dependent people to safely navigate the sidewalk.

Still, there is more than one choke point along that single block of sidewalk that appears to impair freedom of movement. The removal of one tree won’t fix that.

But cheer up! There is good news to report.

Apparently this street will be made safer for pedestrians and other living things without having to sacrifice a single parking space.

I’m just spitballing here, of course.

But what if there were some creative tactical urbanism techniques we could employ to recycle some of that enormous car storage space for the easy mobility of human beings who currently have so little room to spare?

Apparently Public Works doesn’t do tactical urbanism.

Say, here’s an idea.

What if we – again just spitballing here – just decided to extend the 1st Ave people-only street one block east?

Doing so would connect GNV’s human-scale pedestrian space to Bo Diddley Plaza. Added bonus: No need to cut down that tree.

Why must we be a Tree City trapped in a hellish autoAmerican landscape?

We can do better, GNV.

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