JACKSON HOLE, WYO — Town officials have been currently toying with the concept of closing off roads around the Town Square during some of their busiest tourist-season months to market a more outdoor market vibe.
The Town Square Pedestrian Zone Pilot Project for summer 2018 was discussed this afternoon following the idea came up throughout the city’s retreat again in February.
The idea of what could basically function as a Farmers Market on steroids is known by town leaders as a form of “placemaking”–describing a collaborative process of collectively reimagining and activating public spaces for individuals, and shaping the public domain to be able to maximize shared price.
That’s a mouthful simply recognizing that Town Square is Jackson’s important tourism draw and could be described as the “center of the center of town.” As such, the region is treasured for scale its architecture, and general personality.
The vision for town square is addressed in the 2012 Comprehensive Plan, identifying downtown as…”the historical centre of Jackson Hole and the central gathering space for visitors and residents alike… plays an important part in specifying our community’s western heritage and total community identity.”
The Comp Plan concerning Town Square functioning in an manner’s aims include:
- Possess visitors and residents go to the area more often and stay longer, increasing the vitality of the area and encouraging the local market.
- Create great public spaces and amenities for visitors and residents alike.
- Produce a positive visitor experience that affirms our neighborhood market [and] continues the tradition of the Town Square as the gathering place for our community.
- Host various events and community celebrations for visitors and residents.
- Encourage the temporary closure of roads, parking lots, parks and other public spaces to encourage such events.
- The neighborhood should consider the temporary and permanent closure of some roads to vehicles in order to create a lively pedestrian environment.
Tapping into this having a walkable and lively atmosphere might have advantages for many including business about additional retailers the square and nonprofits Searching for an enhanced presence, as well as providing local experience and a value-added visitor that could include amenities like:
- Café tables and seats
- Planters with flowers, shrubs, small trees
- Public art
- Bike racks, parklets
- Food trucks or tents
- Small library
As well as actions that keep people participated like:
- Music entertainment (both informal and scheduled performances)
- Entertainment for children (and adults) like face painting
Farmer’s or People’s Economy
- Dance, plays, or other performances
- crafts and crafts actions
- Old activities
Pathways director Brian Schilling suggested a minimum trial period of nine days, up to some period. He suggested August or July at the time.
Public comment included reactions from three business on the square.
Greg Fulton, owner of Astoria Fine Art, said his business is on the lines of what was being suggested. He predicted the “trial and error” pilot project “too speculative.”
“Parking is already a known issue and these are the top paring spaces in the city,” Fulton said concerning some 50 parking spaces that could be eliminated by the closure of Center and Deloney, ” for instance. “I wonder if this is even worth attempting.”
Director of operations at Mountain Trails Gallery, David Navaratil echoed concerns about parking although he admitted that gang had concerns that were unique because they have their own good deal. He said parking poaching and egress headaches caused by events like the Shootout.
“The number 1 issue downtown is parking, parking, and parking,” he explained. “I have important clients that tell me that they will not come downtown in the summer because of the shortage of parking.”
Even Jim Darwiche, who is nearly the unofficial ambassador of the town square, had bookings. The businessman even started Farmers Market to boost the vibrancy of downtown’s center and owns companies on or near.
Darwiche said he has traveled the world looking to Jackson’s town square for a rival and has yet to locate one. “I have spent a life on the town square. That’s my house and now I dream about it every night,” he explained. “There are some very little things we could do to enhance it but not a lot.”
Darwiche asked the council to think about including all the “smart business people about the square who will be affected” before making any decisions.
Anna Olson, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, said her team has down some initial outreach to industry and would very much want to become a spouse and bridge to the business community from moving ahead to get as many of them to the table as you can.
How they voted
Councilman Don Frank appeared most worried about the job, stating he wasn’t opposed to it automatically but questioned the time (“Why could we do this during the busiest time of the year when existing companies rely upon parking to operate?” He questioned) and the finish sport (I see it as the first step to permanently shutting a couple of roads of the town square to parking,” he detected).
“If we were to think about it during the shoulder or off-season when it might help those retailers on the square, then I might be more amenable to it,” Frank explained. “But [July and August] isn’t the time to spin the room on an economic revolver to see whether this can work or not.”
Bob Lenz, a businessman himselfhad issues for local merchants who want the bills to be paid by the precious weeks of August and July.
“It might work. I really don’t know until we try it I’m prepared to try it,” Lenz explained, “but the most important thing is whether it affects [negatively] how the registers ring round the square, so it does not thrill me a lot.”
Town manager Bob McLaurin quelled some concerns by interjecting that, while the town is not a merchant per se, it is heavily dependent on sales tax revenue.
“We do not feel this could have a negative impact,” McLaurin said. “We are not here to hurt business. We are here to help business.”
Schilling agreed, “Some of the principal goals would be to increase trade in this downtown area.”
Councilman Jim Stanford alluded to many towns in Europe on a scale Jackson Hole as far. “I’m open to giving individuals more space to linger,” he explained.
Mayor Pete Muldoon had initially directed Schilling to explore August and July only because they’d be months likely to have the bodies needed downtown to gauge the impact of a street closure market-type idea. Muldoon surrendered perhaps September would work well as locals.
Muldoon desired to explore what the pilot job might bring but just if outreach was completed.
Ultimately, Frank said he’d vote to explore options but wanted it clear that he need sure exactly what the ultimate aim was.
“Placemaking may accentuate things like vibrancy but it doesn’t change the menu of services to be found on the town square,” he explained.
The council voted 4-0, with Hailey Morton Levinson absent, to teach employees to start to solve the specifics of exactly what a temporary town square pedestrian zone might look like, and to start outreach to the business community in their ideas and concerns.
Schilling agreed outreach are the portion of the process moving ahead. He recommended that the council think about having an external firm in coordinating events especially since town employees is already pushed for time during the summer months.