Open house lays out options for traffic, pedestrians, esthetics
By Ann McCreary
Concepts for revitalizing downtown Twisp were presented to the community for feedback last week during an open house at TwispWorks.
Prominent archways at intersections leading to the downtown area, wide sidewalks, pedestrian malls, landscaping, and a traffic roundabout on Highway 20 near Glover Street were among the ideas presented by SCJ Alliance, a community-planning firm working for Twisp.
The goal of the planning is to help Twisp attract more pedestrians and consumers, and encourage economic development and tourism.
Staff from SCJ Alliance brought large drawings illustrating ideas for making downtown Twisp more inviting. Community members at the June 16 open house gathered around the drawings, sharing their thoughts with each other and the SCJ Alliance consultants, who noted the community feedback on the drawings.
By the end of the open house, “the [drawings] were written all over,” said Eric Johnston, SCJ Alliance vice president. He estimated that the open house drew about 50 people, including several Twisp town staff and council members.
Johnston said some common themes emerged in discussions with community members.
“People wanted to see an improved first impression as people drive into town, and that can take many different forms,” Johnston said.
Consultants propose arches or “gateway features” to be placed at the intersections of Highway 20 and Glover Street, Third Avenue and Twisp Avenue to attract the attention of motorists and draw them into town.
Some people felt improved public parking with better parking area signage would encourage people to leave their cars and walk around town, Johnston said.
Residents also expressed support for public art, and for having awnings as a “uniform feature” of buildings along Glover Street, Johnston said.
Community members said growth in the downtown area should move south toward TwispWorks, “a great anchor on the south end of downtown,” Johnston said. “That could become a community gathering place, especially with what TwispWorks is doing” to create a landscaped plaza in the center of the property, he said.
The planners proposed making Lincoln Street, which parallels Glover Street to the east, a more pedestrian-friendly route to create a connection between TwispWorks on one end and the Twisp park and Wagner Memorial Pool on the other.
Consultants developed three different configurations for a landscaped traffic roundabout that would eliminate the awkward intersection at Glover Street and Highway 20, and help direct traffic onto Glover Street toward Twisp’s downtown area.
“People were curious about the roundabouts. Some were doubtful about the roundabout idea,” Johnston said.
Twisp officials may need to address unsightly residential and business properties that detract from the town’s visual appeal through zoning and code enforcement, or by creating visual screens for some unattractive properties, Johnston said.
Improvements made to portions of a community often help drive improvements in other areas, he said.
“The idea with economic revitalization is that it becomes a moneymaker [and] people decide to upgrade [their property]. It spills over because the value of property begins to go up,” Johnston said.
The open house was the first opportunity for the community to participate in planning for economic revitalization. Johnston said he expects to host another public meeting after consultants process the feedback they have received.
SCJ Alliance, based in Lacey, was hired by Twisp to develop an economic development plan through a $50,000 grant received last year from the state Community Economic Revitalization Board. The town provided a match of about $16,667. Johnston said he expects a final plan to be completed by the end of the year.
With a plan in place, the town will prioritize elements within the plan and seek additional grant funding for the proposed infrastructure improvements, according to Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody.
“This plan is important because as state and federal funds become more competitive and difficult to get, towns have a greater challenge in getting work done,” Ing-Moody said. “Roadwork, signage and improvements to the business district are fundamentally important and possible only after creation of a plan.”