Presentation highlights a new-look Williams
At the Williams City Council meeting on Wednesday, council members and the members of the public got a peek at what Williams could look like in the future during the Downtown Revitalization and Mobility Plan presentation by John Meyer of the Local Government Commission.
The plan, based on community input, emphasized improving downtown visibility and access, encouraging downtown in-fill, and connecting downtown with greater Williams.
Meyer delivered a lengthy presentation, proposing a number of improvements for the downtown area both for the long- and short-term.
Among the more long-term proposals were narrowing the streets into downtown, connecting Granzella's to downtown with a pathway from the restaurant to the banquet center, adding curb extensions to downtown sidewalks, building a small splash fountain at the town square, and building new businesses and downtown housing.
In the short term, Meyer said, there were a number of inexpensive measures the city could take to immediately make improvements to the downtown area to attract more visitors. Meyer said adding high visibility crosswalks would be relatively inexpensive and would help slow down traffic and improve crossing safety for pedestrians. Another suggestion made by Meyer was to re-stripe the parking on 7th Street in the commercial core to gain two feet of space on the roadway, because of concerns regarding the difficulty of backing out of parking spaces there. He said it would slow traffic down and ease backing out of the spots, while only losing a couple of parking spaces. He also proposed striping in bike lanes and parking on E Street.
"I have a lot of questions," Councilman John Troughton Jr. said after the presentation. "Your philosophy is 'if you build it, they will come,' right? I believe we need to sell people something they want. We need to start drawing business here before we build anything like this, before we move forward with anything like this, no matter where the money comes from. We're fighting ourselves by developing on the east side (of the freeway) and then trying to draw people back to Old Williams. (The business on this side of town) needs to be unique and something that isn't there on the East Side."
The council, minus Mayor Pat Ash, who removed herself due to a conflict of interest — she owns a building in the downtown area — decided that a special meeting was warranted, and one was scheduled to discuss the project and any issues they have.