How the project came about, how it would be funded, and the basic goal of the plan
By Chris Meyer
Recently, we have talked about advancing a decade-old plan to create a green corridor in the downtown that is more pedestrian friendly. This is an idea that came out of a 2006 Downtown Master Plan and was never completed. In 2014 we updated the Downtown Master Plan, and it was again reiterated by residents and downtown business owners that this should be a goal for the downtown. This plan was ultimately approved by the city council as well as Main Street Marshfield’s board of directors.
The Downtown Tax Incremental Finance District, or TIF, has been wildly successful and provided funding that has allowed the downtown to have almost every road reconstructed without costing the residential taxpayer a dime. We are fortunate to have this funding available because without it we would not have been able to reconstruct Chestnut, Maple, the connecting streets, or the alleyways.
TIF funding, however, is restrictive. It can only be used inside the TIF district or just outside the TIF district so long as the project provides a direct benefit to the district. Simply put, these dollars cannot be used to fix other streets around town. They must be used in the downtown area.
Recognizing this, the green corridor in the Downtown Master Plan was called out as a project we could do and should do. While it would have been better to decide to do this two years ago when constructing Chestnut and the connecting roads — including Second Street — on the west side, we did not do it then. This year, as Maple and the connecting streets are reconstructed, we have one more opportunity to realize this longtime goal in the downtown.
Second Street was selected for a number of reasons. It connects two of our busiest municipal lots, one on Maple (across from the library) and the other on Chestnut (across from the post office). It connects the downtown with our new public library with over 200,000 people that walk through their doors each year. It starts to advance the idea that our downtown is not just a strip, that it is a district with fantastic resources just a block or two off Central such as the Chestnut Center for the Arts, Upham Mansion, post office, library and future community center, etc. The selection of Second Street also provides the opportunity to design drop-off and loading zones for the businesses in the corridor that currently block traffic when receiving deliveries or having customers pick up merchandise.
Space is tight in downtown side street corridors, and recognizing the need to preserve parking, accommodate loading zones, and still realize more pedestrian space means something has to go. In an effort to accommodate all of these needs, the recommendation was made to eliminate a driving lane and turn Second into a one-way road off from Central, going one way toward the library to the east and one way toward the post office to the west.
We have a downtown that is vibrant and alive, but we know we have more potential to realize. The development of apartments downtown would benefit from green space availability. Businesses that have located downtown and have employees benefit from having green spaces for them to use. Businesses benefit when we can keep people in the downtown a bit longer and encourage them to walk past other storefronts on their way to a municipal lot.
The Green Corridor is just one of the many ideas that will bring change to the downtown, but ultimately it is up to you. Contact your alderperson and let them know your thoughts. At this point the only decision that has been made is to design a one-way street with angled parking and wider sidewalks on Second Street. No plan has been approved, no authorization to solicit bids for construction, only permission to draw a picture of what it could be.