I just went to an Aberdeen Planning Commission meeting to discuss the planning of our downtown area... needless to say, I have some ideas.
These meetings are a great opportunity to hear about some of the dreams of the people of the community, but here's the thing: I want to see some change... like, now. I'm impatient. I'm not willing to wait 20+ years. Yep, Aberdeen. This is me calling you out. Please note that I'm not actually all that interested in turning Aberdeen into the next Port Townsend. I don't need a fancy street car and I while an 11 mile boardwalk on the waterfront would be lovely, there's a lot of other work that I would like to see done first. More importantly, these things are cheap.
1. New branding and wayfinding signage
Ok, maybe rebranding the town isn't the cheapest thing... but with all of the creative people in this area, you'd think we the city could work something out. I believe it should tie in our history, be colorful (also, much like our history) and be clear and consistent. I love this signage below because it is so simple and yet also attractive. Plus, it's just painted on a cement wall.... doesn't get much cheaper than that. And we've got plenty of walls to paint on.
PS - There must be signs to "Vampires," "Kurt Cobain," "Sasquatch," etc.
2. Graffiti Alley
One of my favorite things about Aberdeen is the alley ways. Aberdeen is a gritty, industrial and sketchy town and I think the alley really exemplifies that (I really do mean this in a good way). I was also recently told that there is one particular alley where it is legal to do graffiti... LEGAL! So, what? You think alleys are scary? Why don't we invest in some lighting and turn it into a cobblestone walk way with back entrances to restaurants and stores and add some nice lighting to brighten it up and keep everyone feeling safe? Honestly, a free graffiti alley way might be one of the most unique things in this town. I've never heard of this anywhere else.
3. Speaking of Lighting
Can we just do something creative like this? It is so clever and also so fitting considering the amount of rain we get here. This would be a lovely way to light up an alley way or community gathering space/street.
4. Make our existing parks and community spaces more user friendly
There is exactly one true park in downtown Aberdeen, and is in a pretty terrible location. Situated right in between two, one way streets (also known as the highway). There is little parking, it's difficult to get to (crossing a highway without a stop light?) and it's loud. Nobody wants to hang out there... you might as well be in a fish bowl. I think it would be nice if sides of the park running along the highway were creatively closed off. Parks aren't meant to just be something to look at, they should be places to relax. Why not plant some trees or build an interesting structure (like the one below in downtown Portland) to block the sound? This also seems like a great opportunity to do some story telling about the area's rich history.
5. Parklets... I'm obsessed!
How did I not know about these already? I want one in front of my store. This seems like such a unique way of adding character and a sense of welcoming to any downtown street! There should be at least one on every block as far as I'm concerned. A statistic they showed tonight is that a 77% increase in downtown seating increased sales by 14%! Since I was previously told that adding a bench outside of my store would only cause more trouble, with vagrants sitting there, I'm pretty glad to have gained this knowledge.
6. Don't ignore us bikers
I'm becoming more and more convinced that bicycles will save the world (also... gamers... but that's another story). I just read today that biking actually increases consumer spending. And I'm sure we all can agree that getting exercise makes us healthier and happier. Also, bikers are just cooler. Also, I think they tend to know more about what's going on in town than the average person since they see the world a bit clearer (ie. not from inside of cage of a car). Listen to them! So, can we get some G.D. bike lanes in this town? And maybe even a bike rack or two. There are NO BIKE RACKS HERE!
Moral of the story... these things need to happen and fast. But I think that's all I've got for tonight... next time I'll fill you in on why I think "Come As You Are" should be our town motto.