Representatives from various city and neighborhood organizations met up at Greene St. and W. Chelten Ave. last week to discuss proposals for the potential redesign of a pedestrian plaza and bus station located there.
Thursday morning’s session was helmed by Matt Wysong, the city Planning Commission’s Northwest Planning Manager, and Kittleson and Associates senior planner/landscape architect JP Weesner.
It brought together people with the Planning Commission, Commerce Department, Department of Parks and Recreation, Central Germantown United CDC, Germantown Life Enrichment Center and Friends of Vernon Park.
The space today
Wysong deemed the redesign project as a good one not only in terms of cost, scale and simplicity, but also in terms of how the space relates to other projects the city plans for the central Germantown area.
Built in the 1960s, the plaza may have been the intended site for the Joseph E. Coleman Northwest Regional Library, which sits directly across Chelten Ave. It’s current layout evolved in the 1980s as part of a construction project resulting in a row of retail shops.
“The problem with the plaza is a fundamental flaw in its design,” read a document circulated at the meeting.
“The rear half of the adjacent building is separated from the rest of the plaza by a low wall barrier and a drop in elevation,” it continued. “This design flaw renders this portion of the plaza useless, creates a vacuum for trash, and attracts undesirable activity.”
What’s to come?
The first priority of the redesign effort will be removing the wall separating the plaza’s two existing sections. Rectifying the grade difference between them will effectively create a unified open space.
Other improvements may include trimming trees to improve sight lines, installing furniture, improving the stormwater-drainage system and replacing the existing bus shelter.
Attendees with local ties focused on how the redesign project has created an opportunity to improve the connection between the plaza and Vernon Park, which abuts the site’s Greene Street side.
They proposed devoting research and planning time to the possibility of encorporating the Vernon Park entrance as part of the plaza.
That could be accomplished, attendees said, by removing a portion of the fence and retaining wall now separating park from plaza. That way, it could become a kind of gateway to Central Germantown.
As it currently stands, though, any work is contingent upon securing funding beyond the $17,000 contract for construction-document drafting.
Noted Wysong, “There’s probably two potential funding sources that we could go after: City commercial corridor-improvement funding or state commercial corridor-improvement funding.”