The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
I see that Warrensburg was awarded a matching funds grant for the first phase of Warrensburg Main Street, Inc's downtown street rehabilitation project, The way I understand it, the city gets about $300,000 if Main Street can come up with $30,000. Certain aspects of this program are seriously needed, especially renovation of the sewer system before leaks make us a superfund site.
Most utilities have been reported to be amenable to upgrading their lines, with the notable exception of Missouri Public Service, who, last I heard, would just as soon keep the forest of poles that infests downtown. Streets & sidewalks will also be improved.
One thing that concerns me in the street/sidewalk portion is the concept of "pedestrian bumpouts." Now, these aren't designed to "bump off" pedestrians, they're little peninsulas that stick out into the street at the areas now marked with yellow curbs. They make the pedestrian's trip across the street a bit shorter and may contain decorative items such as trees or planters. So, what's the problem? The problem is convenient parking.
One of the best things about downtown Warrensburg is that you can pull straight into or glide out of end parking spots without having to demonstrate your proficiency in the art of parallel parking. "Pedestrian bumpouts" would eliminate that convenience. The City has actually shrunk the size of these end slots so they exactly fit a large car or pick-up truck. With "pedestrian bumpouts" either these vehicles, very common downtown, will be unable to use the end slots or the City will have to reduce parking spaces (isn't downtown parking already considered a problem?). I thought the objective was to get more people to go downtown, not to run off a substantial portion of those who already go there.
If you want to see a city that has a mature program in this area, visit High Street in Jefferson City - their "bumpouts" are in midblock, so they don't interfere with turning corners. Compare the width of their High Street with our Holden Street. Compare the number of parking spaces per block. Compare the amount of public parking in the area. Compare the downtown working population. Compare the propensity for vandalism (measured, say, in adult beverage establishments per acre). Then, suggest that any money designated for "pedestrian bumpouts" could better be spent on other aspects of the project.
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