A Seven Days article regarding the desire of merchants adjacent to the Church Street Marketplace evoked my letter below referencing my long held belief that converting adjacent space along cross streets outward from the edge of the Marketplace a great deal of sense--"shared space" with a mix of vehicles and walkers can easily be installed with benefits for all. The Marketplace businesses themselves are understandably cool to this idea because the side street merchants are not included in the special tax district which funds various activities on the Marketplace. My suggestion is to seek a middle ground on the issue and move forward with "shared space" where appropriate. This letter was not published by Seven Days:
Agree with side street merchants push for an enhanced connection from the Marketplace onto College, Bank and Cherry Streets as a natural step economically beneficial to all. This "pushout" approach particularly makes sense on Cherry where constant bus runs flows end with the new transit center. I made a strong comment on the PlanBTV that the “shared space” where vehicles and walkers mix comfortably at Marketplace street crossings can be carefully expanded east and west with similar paving and side area treatments. (Check out “shared space” through a google.) This works for traffic and enhances the fronting businesses. Yes, this will increase economic vitality of side areas but the presence of slow though yielding vehicle traffic means less realistically per square foot sales potential than similar stores on the Marketplace proper. The Marketplace needs to recognize side street businesses cannot be expected to pay the same rate of support they are required to do. A compromise figure can certainly be found. This becomes win-win as the Marketplace overall becomes more attractive to shoppers with enhanced side areas leading into the original--still remarkable after all these years--Marketplace areas.