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Grand Coulee envisions ideas for its downtown


One of the ideas for the future of the city presented by SCJ Alliance.

The city of Grand Coulee is looking at a vision for the future of the city that includes more pedestrian-friendly features, aesthetic upgrades, and relocating city hall at the former middle school.

SCJ Alliance, the city's planning firm, presented some ideas for the future of the city at a March 13 meeting for the city's planning commission, which includes council members Alan Cain and Tammara Byers, as well as Grand Coulee citizen James O'Hara.

"Alan and I were impressed," Byers said at the March 19 city council meeting. "We thought they did a nice job with the updates. Everything they're doing is to bring more business into the community, and I think they did a nice job. They gave some outlines for how we could beautify downtown."

A map highlighting possible changes presented by SCJ Alliance shows areas where trees could be planted, and more welcome signs placed. It shows trails connecting Midway Avenue to the area of the former middle school, and intersection changes to make things more pedestrian friendly and calm traffic.

One such idea is to have more crosswalks, as well as to remove a small section of Main Street where it connects to Federal Avenue for a possible street closure with food trucks.

"The catch with a lot of that," Mayor Paul Townsend said, "is you put this stuff in to improve the outlook and the view of the town to people coming through, and for people who live here, the catch is once you get this put in place there is the upkeep and maintenance of it which creates even more of a load on an already hard working crew."

"The things they are talking about are standard sorts of things that happen all places," Cain said later. "Making it more pedestrian friendly would be really nice."

"The idea," Cain said, "is that we can use our planning policies to create a way to make our town more attractive by using traffic 'smoothing' and the like, and improve the desirability for visitors and locals walking around, spending money."

Another drawing from SCJ Alliance shows a possible arched sign near Main Street and Federal Way highlighting where Main Street is located.

"It's a long process," Cain continued. "It takes forever unless you have a wealthy benefactor.

The first step is for people to get inspired enough to think that they want something. It's all well and good for people on the council to say, 'You should spend money on this.' These are things that the city people need to have a conversation about. Cities without citizens are not very good. This is a beginning sort of thing. It's a kind of wish list. These are things that are easily done."

These ideas haven't been approved to move forward; there is no timeline for them to happen. Rather, they are ideas of what the city might want in the future.

"We're working on incorporating the downtown concept into the draft economic development chapter of the comprehensive plan," said Dan Penrose, a planning manager at SCJ Alliance.

The planning commission's next meeting is today, April 10, at 6 p.m. at Grand Coulee City Hall.

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