June 18, 2004

Maine Town’s Streetscape Plans

The town of Oakland, Maine's downtown revitalization plans include creating "a continuous system of curbed sidewalks on both sides of the street that give the visual cue that the user has entered a distinct and pedestrian friendly downtown area."

What does that mean? "Create landscape buffers between this sidewalk and parking lots adjacent to the street to screen cars and asphalt. Add street trees to this buffer, where appropriate, to provide scale and shade.>

If you look at one existing stretch of street, you see a road, a strip mall, a parking lot, and noplace you'd feel like strolling. A rough sketch here shows the idea of what happens when you don't simply install a sidewalk, but add pedestrian-friendly ambiance to that sidewalk -- including trees to serve as a buffer between walkers and traffic on one side, and getting rid of the parking-lot asphalt in front of buildings on the other side.

That's not a multi-million-dollar project, and they're not re-creating Newbury Street. But it shows how these basic, pedestrian friendly changes create a more desirable downtown.

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