More than 70 residents and stakeholders attended a public meeting where the $2.2 million Maplewood Mall revitalization project’s lead consultant revealed the redesign’s first-draft alternatives.
City officials were also on hand for the Tuesday night session, held at the First Presbyterian Church of Germantown on West Chelten Avenue, to solicit input from community members.
It was the first of two similar meetings scheduled with local engineering firm Whitman, Requardt & Associates.
Soliciting community input
Attendees browsed and voted on design boards based on themes of history, art and modern elements. They also participated in breakout discussions with City Planning Commission (PCPC) representatives.
Matt Wysong, the PCPC’s Northwest community planner, said the feedback will help make key decisions for the project.
“From the beginning, this has been a community driven process,” he said. “At each step of the way, we have engaged the broader community and stakeholders from local community groups, as well as the businesses and residents on the Mall. We want to continue that into the latter stages of this project.”
On artistic possibilities
A big part of the discussion between the project leaders and residents revolved around the proposed incorporation of various artistic elements.
Local artist Jenny Shanker, the project staff’s artist, shared multiple ideas of how art might be added to the Mall through.
They included simple alterations like adding light and design to existing bollards to more intricate elements like creating artistic gateways, murals and signage.
“There’s so much going on the Mall already and so I want to consider an option where some of this fits in, in a very natural way,” she said.
Shanker said at least three major art displays have been proposed: One at each entrance and another on the wall facing Armat Street.
“By doing something on the Armat Street side, you could really bring a lot of attention and let people know that something’s going on here at Maplewood Mall,” she said, noting that another call for art proposals could be issued after the redesign project is complete.
What they said
The meeting’s general atmosphere was positive as residents expressed appreciation that their opinions were being considered.
Tieshka Smith, a Germantown-based photographer, said she was pleased with the design plans.
“Creating a space that can really bring people in Germantown together, while also stimulating economic development, is a good thing,” she said.
Mary Morrow-Ferrell was also pleased.
“There’s some good materials here,” she said. “It sounds like they’re really listening closely to the residents.”
Eighth District Councilwoman Cindy Bass has vowed to continue seeking additional funding for the project.
“There’s $2.2 million out there for this project. It’s not as much as we would like to have, but we really want to make sure that we get as far as we can get with those funds,” she said.
“If we’re able to secure other funds, we’d be happy to do so. We are working on that now,” she continued. “We can’t promise it in time for this project, but we are working to really get [Germantown] Avenue and the Mall to what we want it to look like.”
Wysong said another public meeting will be held next month.
Michael Campbell, Whitman, Requardt & Associates’ landscape architect, said the preliminary design phase should wrap up sometime in October. They hope to begin construction by late 2015 or early 2016.