Creating a better, more walkable downtown West Palm Beach takes many steps and involves the time and effort of many stakeholders. In an attempt to prioritize, below is a shortlist of three WalkableWPB priorities in 2014. These are in no particular order.
- Plant street shade trees and maintain those we have
- Convert Olive and Dixie to two-way operation throughout downtown
- Create a Better Block project on Datura Street, and test a low-cost, incremental approach to making better places
Commonality: All are high return on investment, relatively low-cost public projects. All can be substantially completed in 2014, with the possible exception of converting Olive and Dixie. Most of these ideas have been talked about extensively on the blog, in public meetings, and with community leaders, and none of these are new or original ideas – the original ideas come from various sources such as the 1994 DPZ downtown master plan, Jeff Speck’s “Walkable City”, the Better Block group, and Strong Towns.
The hope is that with Jeff Speck’s upcoming walkability study of downtown, these projects will gain the support of a recognized expert. Many great recommendations will no doubt come out of this study. This list focuses on what we can start on now that will have a tremendous positive impact on West Palm Beach in the least time possible and get buy-in from the community for the entire package of recommended changes. It is based on observations of walking the street for years, living and working downtown. These projects can be initiated now, do not require outside grant money or long approvals, and just work. Once the final walkability report is released, it will be up to the community and our leaders to see to it that its ideas are carried out. Seeing that the full recommendations of the walkability study are acted upon will comprise a goal of the blog.
In the coming weeks, more extensive articles will be written to cover why these projects should be done and describe an incremental investment approach to the Datura Street 300 block.
It’s very gratifying to see one of the 2013 priorities we set as the Downtown Neighborhood Association (I serve on the Board) coming to fruition – bringing a bikeshare program downtown (thank you DDA!). I hope that in 2014, we can accomplish even more together with the DDA, CRA, and City of WPB leadership. Here’s to a great 2014!