Only If Good For Biz, Mayor OK with Pedestrian Clematis Test
View looking west on Clematis Street with Olive Avenue in center. Photo credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com
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May 30, 2014
(West Palm Beach, FL) – Would temporarily converting a portion of Clematis Street in Downtown West Palm Beach into a pedestrian mall help boost downtown business?
That was one of the questions raised during this week’s Walkability Study presentation to the City Commission.
Mayor Muoio said she would favor a limited, temporary test run of the idea, but only if it is supported by the businesses community, and only if the idea helps boost their businesses.
The idea would require more discussion and public input before anything is tested, and initially it might only be on a weekend day for a few hours.
“I am certainly willing to give it a shot, and we are beginning to do that with these little parklettes that the DDA [Downtown Development Authority] is going to start using,” said Mayor Muoio.
The idea floated during the presentation by author and planner Jeff Speck was to try turning a section of Clematis Street into a pedestrian mall on a temporary basis, without spending any money on changing the infrastructure or streetscaping unless or until the idea proves to be good for local business owners.
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The conversion would include moving planters, temporary trees, outdoor furniture, etc into the street to give pedestrians shaded places to sit and relax. It would only be for certain hours of the day, and only on a small stretch of Clematis Street.
“I think once we try the parklettes and see how they work,…maybe on a Sunday we can close the street and see what happens. I think looking at trying it at little or no expense is a way to go, just to see how it works,” said Muoio.
The DDA has already been working on an idea to convert some parking spaces along Clematis Street to seating areas for customers of downtown businesses.
Mayor Muoio said she also supports the idea of reducing the number of lanes along Flagler Drive to make room for parking and bike lanes and to make the waterfront more pedestrian accessible. But she acknowledged there will be a large number of people who travel Flagler Drive and would oppose the change.