COLUMBIA — Providence needs pedestrians.
- June 21: Public meeting: 6 to 8 p.m., Dulany Hall, Columbia College
- June 25: Public meeting: 4 to 6 p.m., Dulany Hall, Columbia College
- July 5: Public meeting: 7 to 9 p.m., location TBD, to be followed by a celebration.
Source: City of Columbia
"You, as the community, are the mortar of the vision," John Hoal, one of H3's founders, said.
Armed with permanent markers and table-sized maps of the two downtown nodes — Broadway-Providence Road and Broadway-College Avenue — people voiced their issues and ideas about downtown.
The most common issues:
- Providence Road is extremely difficult to cross and creates a barrier between pedestrians and downtown.
- There are too many surface area parking lots.
- Downtown lacks a city center and gathering space.
- The area has no urban grocery store.
The most common ideas to improve the area:
- De-emphasize the automobile and make the entire area more pedestrian friendly.
- Increase residential areas by having fewer rentals and more permanent ownership of homes such as bungalows.
- Unearth more of Flat Branch Creek to make the area greener.
- Develop the old Osco-Druglot.
Glenn Rice, a former member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and an MU employee, said planning and implementing ideas for downtown won't happen overnight.*
"Downtowns and good places have to evolve," Rice said. "You don't just draw it on a map."
The next step of the plan is to determine whether or not these ideas are feasible. Hoal said the company will compile the public comments into a list to determine which issues have a consensus. Once they determine the most popular ideas, they'll test the options to see if they can work technically, he said.
"We try to find what is most pragmatic and most workable," Hoal said.
H3 will return for June 21 to 25 to share its findings with the public.