Letter at Length

Rethinking the Plaza redesign

It's unanimous. Nobody likes the Plaza redo. The time for being critical is over; now it's time to start thinking about what can be done to fix it. Here are some suggestions:

1) Twelve-foot sidewalks along the north side, the side of the street with the storefronts. This is very feasible as seen by the cars parked along the Plaza curb before they painted it yellow. It works. I'm sure the store owners would be very happy to have additional retail space for sidewalk cafés, and this would create a very European (or early American) atmosphere.

2) Expand the Plaza on the south side 6 to 12 feet; there's plenty of room for this.

3) Replace the small, slow-growing trees with London plane sycamores taken from the grove across from the band shell. These trees are already large and can be trimmed and prepped for the transplant. They would be huge within a few years and provide wonderful, dappled sunlight.

4) Install a large, 16-foot-diameter fountain where the pavers are in a circle. Every plaza must have a fountain, a big fountain that you can dangle your feet in, cool your feet off, or throw a coin to make a wish, for dogs to drink from. These are human things, that we must embrace.

The fountain does not have to be expensive; it can be cast concrete of any style with a nice finish. I'll be happy to design and oversee the construction of such a fountain at no charge.

5) Replace the pavers with cobblestones in a fan style. Reuse the asphalt gray pavers somewhere in the park for a path.

6) Remove the concrete barriers ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall"). The term "concrete barriers" has no place in a vocabulary of plaza design. Barriers already show signs of grinding from skateboards and a lot of stains from Coca-Cola or whatever.

7) Include grassy areas. It's very important to demonstrate a welcoming atmosphere. Not one of hostility or fear. Normal benches would be appropriate.

Please, let's make the Plaza compatible with our town, a town loved by so many and so dear to us. Let's show it.

Neil Stewart


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