GENEVA — A proposed one-way traffic pattern and back-in diagonal parking plan for East Castle Street in downtown Geneva is gone, replaced by a new vision that received good reviews from City Council last week.
The new design, discussed at Council’s Wednesday meeting, not only keeps the current two-way traffic pattern but restores parallel parking on both sides of the street.
Castle Street from Routes 5&20 to Main Street is being redesigned under a project getting a piece of the city’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award. A portion of Exchange Street south of the Castle Street intersection also will be getting a new look.
The original proposal for East Castle Street called for one-way traffic going west and back-in diagonal parking. Both ideas, however, received significant pushback from Council and the public at a special meeting in May.
Many believed back-in parking would be difficult to do in Geneva’s busy downtown streets, while there was concern for the one-way western traffic pattern, which would eliminate a key access point to Routes 5&20 and the lakefront.
“I would propose to not do the back-in parking at this time,” City Manager Sage Gerling told Council. “I want people to be excited (about the project).”
If the back-in parking proposal is a “sticking point” for Council and residents, Gerling said she’d rather exclude it, noting that the parking pattern also has been dropped for the rest of Castle Street and the portion of Exchange included in the DRI streetscape project that is north of Castle.
The plan — which Gerling stressed is still rough and in the design stage at this point — also adds a 10-foot, two-way bicycle track on the north side of East Castle, and includes a “bike box” at the intersection with Exchange Street that gives bicyclists a chance to queue ahead of motor vehicle traffic at red lights.
On-street parallel parking will remain on both sides of the street.
“There is still generous (parking) space on both sides,” said Gerling, who did note that under the newest proposal, left-turn lanes going east and west on East Castle Street would be eliminated to provide for the “complete streets” design. The concept takes into account not only all modes of transportation, but also integrates room for public space and green infrastructure to provide beauty and stormwater management.
“I think this is a pretty good reflection of what everyone was hoping for,” Gerling said.
Council members agreed.
“The people spoke, and I think the answer’s in this,” said At-large Councilor Gordy Eddington.
Third Ward Councilor Steve Valentino complimented city administration and Barton & Loguidice designers for “taking that information (from the May meeting) and doing something creative.”
At the request of Council, Gerling also gave cost estimates for maintaining the green infrastructure and landscaped areas of both Routes 5&20 and the downtown streetscape project areas: $55,000 for the first three years and $45,000 annually after that.
“If City Council decided to hire a year-round laborer, as opposed to part-time seasonal or contractor work, the anticipated cost is $80,000 annually,” said Gerling on Friday.
These costs would be part of the 2021 budget, she said.
The Routes 5&20 reconstruction project is set to be the first project to start under the DRI plan, with Castle and Exchange to follow in the second year.