Traffic volume and flow are two of the greatest problems for the Junction resulting in risks to pedestrians, disconnects that create economic costs for north and south side businesses, unsafe conditions for bicyclists, pollution, and inconvenience and long wait times for drivers. I support any effort by the City to encourage SHA to move forward with traffic design studies and evaluations that would offer a set of engineering options that would provide options for future consideration, including evaluations of traffic circles, roundabouts and reconfiguration of the Carroll/410 intersection as some form of T-intersection. I just cannot see how we can address the long-term fundamental problems of the Junction and described in the report without taking significant action to address traffic flow. I support short-term fixes including adjustments to the bus bay space, curb adjustments and signal optimization which will likely create improvements, but I believe that a real solution is going to take a harder look at bigger changes.
Sycamore Avenue Entrance/Exit
I do not support changes that would close down access at Sycamore or make it one way but changes in the signal cycling at Sycamore might be possible once signals are switched to the County system.
High Density Residential Development
I do not support high density residential development in the Junction on the City-owned lot. Our city has high or moderate density residential scattered in many areas throughout the City as well as neighborhoods of high density housing. Efforts to increase the city’s population come at a cost to our schools and infrastructure costs.
I am really interested in but did not see in the report any evaluation of whether closure of the top of Grant Avenue would create a significant burden to downhill residents or access on Maple Avenue. I suggest such a closure because I wonder if the space freed up by doing so could be used for parking or outside seating next to the former TJ’s Market that would allow that space to be used to greater benefit. For example, outside gardened seating space could help create a viable footprint for a restaurant at the TJ’s location.
I believe the City should move forward with an environmental evaluation of the ground under the City-owned lot that would remove some of the uncertainty associated with future use of this site. Eventual sale of this site (perhaps with a city-held easement in place to limit or bound future use) would generate important revenue, but many of the short-term proposed uses in the report (especially Food Trucks) are of interest and would likely provide short-term benefits to residents that would be valuable.
I am curious why the report recommends a switchback trail as opposed to stairs through the wooded lot. I also don’t understand why one part of the plan called for “retention and repurposing of the Turner and Healy buildings” rather than more significant changes that worked for the future business services of the Junction.
I am also curious whether the Task Force evaluated the source of parked cars in the City-owned lot, a significant fraction of which seem to be present in the lot for eight or more hours on workdays.
What is the Right Amount of Retail/Commercial in the Junction
I did not see in the report but am interested in an evaluation of whether there is too little or possibly too much retail space in the Junction to be supported by available customers. For example, a public-private effort could buy a portion of current and vacant (including undeveloped) space and convert it into parking, walking, landscaped or other space that would, in conjunction with remaining retail space produce far more powerful opportunities to attract and retain a profitable customer base for Junction businesses.
Solar rooftops are an obvious opportunity for the extremely sun-exposed buildings of the Junction. Solar power purchasing agreements offer low or no cost opportunities for installation and power purchase that would save businesses money. I believe its worthwhile for the City to mediate a conversation with area businesses and OTBA to evaluate whether any loan or other financing is necessary to overcome barriers to such installation. The greatest barrier may be the condition or age of roof and roof structures in the Junction.
Free Reboarding of the RideOn Bus
Thank you for the task force pointing out that one can get off and back on the RideOn bus without charge – that was news to me!
Acquisition of the vacant 410 lot at Jackson Avenue
The Task Force report talks about ‘branding’ of the Junction as well as gateway opportunities east of the Junction along 410. The vacant lot at the corner of Jackson and 410 has been more of a problem than a resource to the community. However, if it were in public ownership, it could become a gateway location, landscaped as a park, welcome garden and green space and signage. I would support an effort to evaluate City purchase of the lot as an addition to our park acreage.
As a vision for what happens next in the Junction, I believe the ‘city-led’ strategy described on page 78 of the report offers the most promise to get the best outcome over efforts to improve the Junction. Its important that any such effort have defined goals, budgets and a cost recovery plan, but making change happen at the Junction is likely not going to happen without the catalytic effect the City could provide, possibly in a public-private partnership with local business owners.