Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1038726

Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 28, 2014

Designing the future

By Xiomara Levsen | Aug 01, 2013

RIVERSIDE—On Wednesday, July 31, Gary Lozano, Laura Kessel, and Lauren Ditzler of RDG Planning and Design, gave their recommendations on things the City of Riverside should look into to begin the comprehensive design process.
They picked three topics to speak about at the meeting. Lozano and Ditzler said local residents brought these topics to their attention as areas they would like to see improved.
Those topics were what to do to make downtown more appealing for businesses and residents, the need for multi-family housing, and possible locations of a community center.
Kessel spoke about the downtown area first. She said there is a possibility of locating the community center on the east side of Casa Tequila off of Washburn Street.
“This concept explores a two-story community center on that corner of the street closing down Washburn Street,” Kessler said.
The entrance or the driveway to the community center would be on the south side of the building right across from the bank, she said.
Another topic discussed was the sidewalks downtown and safety concerns. Lozano said they are a liability issue for the city.
“The state building code that we’re all under, requires that if you have a drop more than 30 inches you must have a fence,” Lozano said. “It’s a clear requirement. This situation exists in such a manner that it is a real public danger.”
Kessel said something needed to be done quickly because the condition of the sidewalks is very poor. She said a fence or railing should be installed temporarily and, before removing them, infrastructure research would have to be done.
She had a couple of suggestions she presented to revamp the sidewalk structures. She said having a terraced lawn or stairway would help with access to businesses downtown and would keep people in town longer. Another suggestion was installing trees in planters downtown. Both would help slow down the traffic through downtown.
Kessler suggested changing the parking layout. The parking spaces right now are 15 feet wide and the state requires 10 feet, Kessel said. If the city were to make the spaces smaller, more parking would become available and it would give the city more room for other concepts.
After discussing downtown,l Lozano spoke about housing in Riverside. He said that housing in the city is 75 percent single family and 25 percent multi-family. The multi-family housing was primarily over by the casino.
“You need more alternative housing for the folks that don’t want just a single family home on a lot,” Lozano said.
He gave some examples of multi-family housing, townhomes and four-unit condos, which would bring young professionals and senior citizens to the area.
“This is a market you essentially don’t have here in Riverside,” Lozano said, “to accommodate people who want this sort of thing, and they’re going up like hot cakes all over because of aging baby boomers that want to move out of their homes.”
Also, updating amenities in town would help keep or bring new residents to the community, Lozano said. One suggestion he gave was having a new trail on the north side of town going from Glasgow Street over to St. Mary’s Church to the elementary school. Another idea was to create a new park by the elementary school.
All of these were just suggestions for the city, Lozano said. It would be up to city as to whether or not they use them.

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