Taking it to the street: Broken Arrow workshops to inspire streetscape
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Monday, September 24, 2012
9/24/12 at 1:39 PM
Broken Arrow: Read previous stories related to Broken Arrow and get contact information for Broken Arrow officials.
BROKEN ARROW - Jason Scarpa opened Main Street Tavern hoping to take advantage of a budding arts and entertainment district downtown.
"Otherwise there's just not really the customer counts down here to support these types of establishments," he said.
Lured by recent public investment, restaurants like Main Street Tavern have brought life to the mile-long stretch of Main Street in the city's historical core.
Now it's the city's turn to feed the momentum, Scarpa said.
Officials hope the next great idea for downtown comes Tuesday during public workshops aimed at exploring possibilities for Main Street streetscape projects.
Widening sidewalks so restaurants can add patio seating, reducing the number of traffic lanes and changing street parking and lighting are among the suggestions.
Engineers and city officials will explain such options and collect more ideas from the public.
"We feel like our Main Street is kind of a hidden gem that people don't really know about," city spokeswoman Stephanie Higgins said. "Now we're just trying to upgrade it so people will talk about it and bring their friends."
Scarpa said wider sidewalks for patio seating would help bring people downtown. He would also like to see Main Street's current angled parking removed in favor of side-street parking.
"We have customers asking now if they can move tables outside," he said. "I think people love to sit outside when the weather's nice so it would really help our business a lot."
JoAn McCall, owner of Hollow Tree Gifts, said she opposes wider sidewalks because she has to sweep in front of her business, but is more worried about parking.
Ideas include changing the angle of slanted parking or replacing it with parallel parking, which would add room in the road but reduce the number of parking spaces.
McCall said she and her daughter, Christy Palmer, who owns another Main Street business, recently parked on separate days in parallel spaces on a downtown side street. Both cars were hit, she said.
"I really feel like it's a big safety issue," she said. "Most of our customers are definitely with us."
Scarpa, McCall and other downtown business owners told the Tulsa World that they care less about the number of traffic lanes than parking styles or sidewalks width - although the issues are connected.
An engineering firm has concluded that taking Main Street from four lanes to three, thereby freeing space for changes to street parking and sidewalks, would not harm traffic flow.
The firm also explored moving to two lanes, but recommended against it.
"We would go along with (wider sidewalks) and we would go along with the three lanes if we can keep our slanted parking," McCall said. "You have to give somewhere."
Higgins said it's important for downtown business owners and residents citywide to share such opinions at one of the workshops.
During the first 30 minutes to 45 minutes of both sessions, officials will present existing streetscape ideas and the findings of recent engineering studies.
Attendees will then have a chance to discuss those ideas and propose others during small-group meetings with engineers and city staff.
Officials will also take into account the options of those who don't want changes, Higgins said.
"We would like feedback," she said.
"Who's to say someone might not come in and have a fantastic idea that we haven't thought of?"
Any project would be funded by the FlightSafety tax increment financing district, which dedicates $6 million to revitalize downtown, although officials are hesitant to offer a hopeful timeline on such a project, Higgins said.
Main Street streetscape workshops
4-6 p.m. Tuesday
6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday
Central on Main, 201 N. Main St.
Original Print Headline: Taking it to the street
Zack Stoycoff 918-581-8486
Jason Scarpa, owner of the Main Street Tavern in Broken Arrow, sits outside the business on Friday. City leaders are seeking input on potential streetscape changes, including narrowing Main Street and adding wider sidewalks. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World
JoAn McCall, owner of Hollow Tree Gifts in Broken Arrow, sits outside the shop on Friday. City leaders are seeking input on potential streetscape changes, including narrowing Main Street and adding wider sidewalks. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World