One-way streets and angled parking at the heart of the plan
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD —The Marshfield Common Council voted 5-4 on Tuesday night to approve a final concept for the redesign of Second Street from Maple Avenue to Chestnut Avenue. The concept includes angled parking on those blocks as well as one-way streets heading east from Central Avenue to Maple Avenue and west from Central to Chestnut Avenue. A final and fully detailed plan will still have to be presented to the board of public works and the common council for approval, and the city hopes that construction would begin some time in 2016.
The idea behind the redesign of Second Street is to create a pedestrian friendly walkway within the downtown by calming traffic and installing green space, potentially public art installations, and outdoor seating and dining areas.
The decision to approve the concept for Second Street was a contentious one as business owners again showed up to voice their opposition to the plan on Tuesday night. At a June 15 board of public works meeting, business owners came forward to argue against an earlier proposal for Second Street because it would have significantly reduced parking in what is being called the Second Street Corridor. After hearing those concerns, the board moved to bring back an earlier version of the plan — focusing on angled parking and one-way streets — that would likely maintain or increase the level of parking in the Second Street Corridor.
Bill Mitten, the former president of Mitten’s Home Appliance, said one of his main issues with the Second Street project is that he felt the plans were developed without asking the business community for input.
“There’s a few issues that kind of bothered me with this plan. No. 1, the plan was kept secret. None of us in the area affected knew that any of these plans were coming out. We were not allowed for any input into what was going on with the plan,” Mitten said.
The city did hold two public feedback sessions where multiple concepts for Second Street were on display for citizens to come and discuss with city staff, but both sessions were minimally attended.
“We had two open houses, which were attended by I think a total of six people,” City Planner Josh Miller said.
The city also used an online survey, which Miller said nearly 200 people completed, to gather feedback about what the public wanted to see with Second Street. Mitten said that none of the concepts presented to the public allowed for the option of keeping Second Street status quo, which is what he would prefer. Mitten also said that ideas like outdoor dining areas, which have been a part of proposals for the Second Street Corridor, would not be highly used by Marshfield residents.
“The bottom line is the business owners and the customers in the area don’t want any of the offers that they’ve got. We would prefer to really leave it the same,” Mitten said.
John Sikora, a part owner of Mitten’s Home Appliance, said that making the streets one way could create difficulties with traffic flow while his store is getting deliveries.
“I had a semi in, backed in a 50-foot semi tractor trailer that blocked that road off for almost 40 minutes. We make that street one way and block that traffic off for 45 minutes or an hour or more, that’s no good,” Sikora said. “I think the voice of the public here is better than majority here for again leaving the Second Street the way that it is.”
The proposal for Second Street has not just been an object of focus for the business community as many residents have voiced their opinions on social media, and the topic even brought a lone protester to Central Avenue — Marshfield resident Carl Scott — who voiced his opposition to one-way streets. Council members Alanna Feddick, Gordy Earll, Rich Reinart, and Gary Cummings voted against the Second Street concept on Tuesday night.
Earll said that the comments he has received from the public have been in opposition to this plan.
“The only comments that I have received, and not that I get a great number of phone calls, but it’s all been in opposition to this, and it isn’t just with merchants,” Earll said.
Alderman Chris Jockheck voted in favor of the Second Street concept and said the city had to be willing to consider change.
“We’re not doing this to hurt the downtown,” Jockheck said. “That’s not why I’m on this job. I’m not doing this to hurt the community.”
Alderman Tom Buttke also voted in favor of the Second Street concept on Tuesday and said that he thought that the final concept for Second Street could be adapted to satisfy the concerns of all parties involved.
“My take is doing nothing isn’t the answer anymore. We have to try something different, but we have to be sensitive to the people on Second Street that this is affecting, and I think we can do all that,” Buttke said.
Mayor Chris Meyer said that redeveloping Second Street was a chance to build on an already strong downtown.
“We’ve got a great downtown. We don’t need to shake it up. We’ve got an incredibly great downtown, but we can build upon that, and this is an opportunity for this community to do something that we’re not really good at. We’re not really good at accepting change,” Meyer said. “This is an opportunity I fully support. It is not a panacea. It is not a silver bullet. This isn’t going to be the miracle thing that brings people downtown, but it’s part of a longer term vision, which the downtown master plan … speaks about.
“One of the things we need to do a better job of is helping find ways to help people congregate in our downtown commercial area. This is one of those ideas.”