A long-term plan for the future look of downtown Frederick’s streets could come to the mayor and aldermen by the end of the summer after preliminary details were presented at a meeting Tuesday night.
The ideas presented by the consultant team of Design Collective and RK&K included a mix of short-, mid-, and long-term plans for much of downtown Frederick — from parking and outdoor dining to bike lanes.
The virtual meeting was attended by almost 100 people, said Kara Norman, executive director of the Downtown Frederick Partnership, one of the organizers of the project.
The study looks at creating thoughtful design solutions, setting priorities and developing a framework for future improvements to the streetscapes of Market Street between South Street and 7th Street and Patrick Street between Bentz and East streets for the pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers and other people who shop, dine and attend events in the downtown area.
The issues will be how to best use the 60 feet of space between buildings on the two streets and satisfy the competing demands of pedestrians, shoppers and special events.
The city’s current streetscape was essentially created in the early 1990s, when the city moved utilities underground, according to city officials, although some modifications have been made since then.
The preliminary plan divides the downtown into two areas, Norman said: the heart of Market Street and the first block of East Patrick Street with a heavier concentration of shops, restaurants and businesses and another area outside that core, with some businesses and more residential areas.
In the outer area, a proposal would have trees in tree wells along the street rather than along the sidewalk, where their roots can cause the sidewalk to become uneven. The spaces created by the tree areas could be used for parking or outdoor dining.
For the inner area, one lane of the respective streets could become a “flex” lane to be used for parking at some times and as travel lanes during others.
Another scenario could raise the street in the inner area to eliminate the curb, a proposal that Norman said could provide flexibility for pedestrians and others, but would likely be very expensive.
The proposal also looks at adding bike lanes along Market and Patrick, similar to the ones on North Market Street north of 7th Street.
The plan has revealed a lot of interest in supporting biking in the city, but the question is how, Norman said.
Among the short-term proposals for improving outdoor dining areas downtown were three suggestions: improving the existing barriers by putting planters on top of them to make them more aesthetically pleasing and help with street noise, removing the barriers and replacing them with essentially large planters, and adding artwork to the barriers to make them more interesting and appealing.
Norman said that after the meeting, the consultant team will make changes and edits from the feedback they received and hopefully take the project to the mayor and aldermen by the end of the summer.