First it was an experiment. Then it became semi-permanent. Now it’s here to stay. The city is working on landscape designs for the Newark Avenue pedestrian mall that would include five bioswales or tree pits.
As of now, plans are still in the initial phases. Brian Platt, from the Office of Innovation, is heading up the project. Recently, he’s been soliciting community feedback at neighborhood association meetings, asking residents what is working with the pedestrian mall and what they’d like to see changes. He’s also using the meetings to introduce the new tree pit/bioswale initiative.
Bioswales are landscape design elements that filter silt and pollution from surface run off water. These ones will be planted with trees and other vegetation. The goal behind the bioswales is to make the pedestrian mall feel more like a public gathering spot and less like a street that was closed and painted green. They also hope to inject a bit of nature and serenity to the space.
In addition to the bioswales, they are planning to add hinged gates at each end of the plaza to replace the existing police barricades. These new gates will be able to swing open for vehicles. There are other factors that need to be considered with the new plan too, like vehicular access for the businesses as well as emergency vehicles and personnel. To address this, they’re maintaining a 15 feet wide access corridor down the middle of the mall.
As of now, there’s no publicly available timeline for the project, but it could be assumed they don’t want to undertake a construction project in the middle of its prime season. At the Village Neighborhood Association meeting a few weeks back, Platt indicated the entire project shouldn’t take more than a week or two. It would be great to see this break ground in the next month or two.
More details are available on the Pedestrian Mall website.
What do you think of the new bioswales? Sound off in the comments.