Sunday, July 4, 2004

Readers sound off on Fountain Square plans

I think the plans for Fountain Square look great, with one notable exception. First, what I like includes the "greening up" and "softening around the edges." These are both concepts that I believe the square desperately need to become a welcoming place that provides a respite from the all the concrete and steel the balance of the city has to offer. I also agree that the parking garage is in dire need of renovation.

There are pros and cons to removing the stage and moving the fountain. I tend to side with having some type of stage somewhere on the square as a place for presentation and leaving the fountain where it is, as this option avoids costs and leaves more square space open and unbroken.

However, the one real problem that I have with the design is the elimination of the skywalk. This is part of a bigger idea that I have heard a great deal about lately - the idea of eliminating the skywalk system all together. I think this is a serious mistake. Instead, I think the skywalk should be renovated and expanded. It should be used as a means by which to link the city together and encourage pedestrian traffic throughout, regardless of weather conditions. Nooks and wider areas in the walk can be used for additional retail shops and kiosks, along with benches and areas for viewing the city in action. I've seen such a system help create a vibrant downtown community in Minneapolis, and it can help accomplish the same goal here. Thanks to past leaders, we already have a foundation on which to build.

Brett Bumgarner, West Chester Township


Use fountain cash for other things

Trees on Fountain Square? Trees are beautiful; but they are for the birds. Who wants to have lunch with birds flying overhead? Then we'll have to get rid of the birds (protest) or take out the trees. Hasn't anyone thought about this problem?

Why are we talking about money to move the fountain when the city has not enough money for summer work programs? Can't some of these high-priced planners plan an attractive square without the fountain in the middle? Leave the fountain where it is and use the money for something more urgent. I can't imagine people would not move to this city because the fountain is "off center."

Perri Schmidt, Amberley Village


Pattern square after European model

The Fountain Square design will result in a sloppy, cluttered-looking square that will not be attractive for very long.

The square should be open, on all sides, at street level (not raised) and all traffic should be banned, making it a true pedestrian area from the west side of Vine Street to the east side of Walnut Street and from the south side of Fifth Street to the north side of Sixth Street. Fifth Third buildings would have to go.

Beneath the square should be at least a four-story garage. Access to and from the garage would be from underground streets that would replace the current Fifth, Sixth, Vine and Walnut Streets. As an example, eastbound Fifth Street would start to go below surface near Race Street and would re-emerge near Main Street. Two lanes would be straight through, while the third lane would be the access and exit lane for the garage. Sixth Street would be similar for westbound traffic. These streets would access the garage on the second or third level.

A similar arrangement would be made for Vine and Walnut Streets, between Fourth and Seventh streets. They would access the garage on the first level below the square. Pedestrian access from the square to the garage would be from four or six low-structured entrances spaced near the outer edges of the square.

Small shops and restaurants could face directly onto the square.

Facing the fountain south, out of the shadow of any building, is a good idea. But the square needs a bandstand or some other public meeting place.

I base many of my ideas on city squares that I've seen in other cities, mostly in Europe. Large open squares are common in all size cities of Europe, ranging from the Mediterranean to the Scandinavian countries. They are the focal points of each city and the citizens take great pride in them.

Cletus J. Holtgrefe, Mason


First, visitors must feel safe

I think that it is a huge waste of money given the current climate in downtown. First things first. Make it safer. Stop panhandling altogether. Create more places for the panhandlers to go get a meal, etc.

People are not going to feel comfortable enjoying this beautiful park environment when they don't feel safe. What a waste of money this could be if only the thugs and homeless people could enjoy it.

Sandy Allen, Kenwood

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