Plans for downtown corridor, new town hall to be presented
By Ann McCreary
Plans for creating a more inviting downtown corridor and constructing a new civic building in Twisp will be presented to the community on Wednesday (Nov. 9) at an open house in the Methow Valley Community Center at 6 p.m.
The public is invited to provide feedback on two different projects that are underway — one to revitalize Twisp’s commercial district and another to replace the town hall building.
Twisp officials decided to provide information on both projects in one public meeting to eliminate the need for people to attend a second meeting, and because the projects are closely interrelated, said Mayor Soo Ing-Moody.
“Our consideration is that the civic building should fit into the broader economic revitalization plans for the downtown business corridor,” Ing-Moody said. “It is smack in the middle of our business corridor.”
Next week’s open house will present revised plans for Twisp’s economic revitalization project, which were first brought to the public for feedback in June at an open house at TwispWorks.
The goal of the project is to help Twisp attract more pedestrians and consumers, and encourage economic development and tourism.
Concepts for downtown revitalization presented in June included prominent archways at entrances to the downtown area, wide sidewalks, pedestrian malls, landscaping, and a traffic roundabout on Highway 20 near Glover Street.
Based on comments received at the June meeting and community surveys, consultants with SCJ Alliance, a community-planning firm, revised their design to create a draft that will be presented next week.
“A lot of things we heard from people we either implemented in the plans or created other concepts to address what we heard,” said Eric Johnston, principal with SCJ.
Suggestions included upgrading properties along Highway 20 through Twisp, improving visual corridors from the highway into town, providing places for public art, and improved lighting for pedestrians, Johnston said.
The revised plan includes a “more visually appealing corridor” on Third Avenue from the highway, with on-street parking, wider sidewalks, and landscaping, he said.
“And it will frame the new town hall,” Johnson added.
Planners also want to enhance the visual corridor from the highway to TwispWorks, where a new community plaza is being built, he said.
The design of a proposed traffic roundabout is still under consideration, and cost estimates are being developed for four alternatives, Johnston said.
After the Nov. 9 open house, SCJ will finalize the economic revitalization plan and present it to the Town Council, he said. “We’re hoping it will be adopted by December.”
“Based on this plan, the town would have a tool to move forward … for implementation of the plans and seeking funding for the goals established in that plan,” said Ing-Moody.
Planning for Twisp’s downtown economic revitalization has been funded by a $50,000 grant from the state’s Community Economic Revitalization Board. The town provided a match of $16,667.
The open house will provide the community its first look at concepts for a new Twisp civic building that will replace the current town hall.
The proposed facility would house town administrative offices and the police department, and serve as an emergency operations center for the entire valley during disasters like the wildfires of 2014 and 2015.
Preliminary plans call for the new building to extend partially into Third Avenue between Glover and Lincoln Streets. The street would be closed to vehicles on that block, but would remain open to pedestrians and bikes and would provide a fire lane.
Planners from Architects West Inc. will present their ideas for the building, which is estimated to cost about $3 million, said Ing-Moody.
Town officials have been exploring ways to replace the current town hall building for five years, after major structural and functional problems were identified.
As a result of the wildfire disasters of recent years, creating an emergency operations capability is a key component of planning for the building.
Ing-Moody said law enforcement agencies and emergency responders, including Aero Methow Rescue Service and the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office, are taking an active role in developing those plans.
Preliminary plans for the building call for setting up an emergency operations center, if needed, in the Twisp Council chambers. The new council chambers would be designed to seat up to 50 people, considerably larger than the council meeting room in town hall.
The new facility would also design police department offices to allow for better processing of evidence and separation of suspects from the rest of the facility.
The building would also include communications technology that takes advantage of improvements made by the sheriff’s office to equipment on McClure and Flagg mountains, Ing-Moody said.
“We are trying to capitalize on that for the Methow Valley. If we don’t have the ability to tap into it we are still lacking,” she said.
Twisp has received almost $1 million in state capital projects funding to develop plans for the new civic building.
Ing-Moody said she was encouraged during recent discussions with state Department of Commerce officials who told her that Twisp would be a good candidate to receive a $750,000 grant for the project.
“We would be able to use that for leverage for other funding for the building,” Ing-Moody said.
She said the town would be pursuing different funding sources to construct the building, including additional allocations from the Washington Legislature in its next session.