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Survey results: Residents want middle turn lane and wider sidewalks in downtown Durango

Second questionnaire yielded 1,265 responses
Bump-outs on Main Avenue in downtown Durango have proved popular. Designers hired by the city are looking at ways to accommodate bump-outs while maintaining other functions of Main. (BCI file)

The city of Durango this week unveiled results of its second questionnaire about the possible redevelopment of the downtown, in which most respondents expressed a desire for expanded sidewalks while maintaining a center turn lane for deliveries.

“We found that people want more outdoor seating and opportunities to be outside,” city planner Savannah Lytle said. “We also found that people want to enhance pedestrian and bicycle amenities.”

Teams with the city have been working for the past couple of months to consider next possible steps for downtown by soliciting ideas from the public. Durango’s first questionnaire yielded 938 responses.

Results from the second questionnaire presented Thursday night at Fort Lewis College’s Center for Innovation in the Main Mall showed that of the 1,265 respondents, 44% said business patio spaces or bistro zones is most important to them. The next streetscape element that residents ranked highest were sidewalks at 22%.

Four design concepts were provided in the questionnaire for residents to vote on, and 38% of people chose design concept No. 1, which features wider sidewalks and maintains a center turn lane. A special design option that would create a flexible use space known as a festival block got 29% of the vote.

Concept No. 2, which maximizes public space by extending sidewalks and taking out a middle turn lane, received 17% of the vote. And design concept No. 3, which would add a dedicated cycling lane downtown, got 15% of the vote.

City staff members and design consultant MIG hold a meeting Thursday to discuss what changes residents want to see downtown, after reviewing data from a recent questionnaire.(Nicholas A. Johnson/Durango Herald)

The design concepts are by no means final. Choosing a design concept in the questionnaire was done to help inform design consultant MIG for future designs.

“We wanted to ask people which aspects of different concepts they like, so that it doesn’t have to be one of these concepts exactly,” said Jay Renkens, design leader with MIG. “We can mix and match and come up with a new concept based on community input.”

Many residents came to see the results of the city’s second questionnaire and to chat with consultants and city officials about what they want to see happen downtown.

“We’re concerned about where deliveries are going to go, where my customers and staff are going to park. Those things are a bit concerning with the current plans,” said Emma Vanryswyk, owner of the downtown business Barefoot. “So we really appreciate meetings like this. I think it would be nice to spruce up downtown, but I think the current plans are going to negatively impact business, and without businesses, what’s downtown?”

Those who live close to downtown such as Greg Russell said he would like to see downtown become more accessible for pedestrians.

“We’re much more interested in having a friendly place to walk around,” he said. “I really want to see a downtown that’s built for walking and not for traffic. I know there has to be a balance there, but that’s what I want to see.”

Bump-outs, the patio program that has allowed restaurants to provide outside seating on Main Avenue, has proved to be popular among many Durango-area residents, said multimodal administrator Devin King.

“Those bump-outs also present some challenges with safety with them being right on the street,” he said. “So with this project we’re pushing that bistro space up against the buildings.”

Lytle said the next step will be using public feedback to create a preferred concept that will be presented in another public meeting scheduled for either late April or early May.

njohnson@durangoherald.com

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