Downtown Development Proposes Making Jackson Street More Pedestrian Friendly

Published 7:37 pm Sunday, December 17, 2023

The Downtown Development Board met December 12th at 11:00 on the third floor of the City of Americus Municipal Building. Main Street Director Qaijuan Willis brought two proposals before the Board for landscape architect Carmine Fischetti of Main Street Studio to sketch a set of plans, one for improving Jackson Street another for improving Pearlman Park.
Proposed changes for Pearlman Park included improving the existing parking lot with bump outs, creating an area for outdoor restaurant seating, and screening the dumpster.
The proposal for Jackson Street aimed at making the street more pedestrian friendly, adding a mid-block crosswalk, enhanced bump outs, as well as aesthetic improvements such as new trees.
Willis talked about meeting with Fischetti, saying plans for each project would cost $2,000 apiece. He then mentioned Fischetti’s advice on Jackson Street.
“After hearing about Jackson Street, his initial reaction was not to close it but to do some landscape work there to make it look more pedestrian friendly.”
Willis mentioned Fischetti had “seen where communities have done that and it turned into just a long stretch of nothing.”
Board member Charles Crisp made a proposal that would create pedestrian space while preserving parking.
“I personally think a good halfway in between that would be to make it one lane, one way, that way you keep all the same number of parking spaces.”
Willis then addressed the proposal to beautify and revamp Pearlman Park, and Crisp commented on the state of the utility lines. Crisp mentioned that Georgia Power appeared receptive to burying more of the power lines.
Willis recommended using the money available to DDA as seed money while applying for relevant grants.
Board member Frank Ceresoli commented.
“It looks like the Pearlman Park project is probably a lot more affordable.”
Crisp replied.
“There is a lot of variables that we would have to find out about there.”
Ceresoli asked about use.
“Would we make it a park or a parking lot?”
Crisp replied.
“I think we could increase the parking that we have back there, but I wouldn’t turn it 100% into parking. I would do some landscaping.”
Crisp commented on ownership.
“I don’t know if the best way to, with a park that is privately owned, which is most of it, whether the best approach with that would be to purchase that property or long-term leases. Speaking as one of the owners, I’m versatile about that.”
Board member Brandon Vann commented.
“I’m in favor of moving forward with Pearlman Park.”
Ceresoli concurred.
“I’m in favor of that. I think there is a parking issue that that could help solve.”
Frank Ceresoli mentioned potential holdouts.
“I don’t want to invest money into something that has a legal battle ahead of it that we don’t have the money to fight.”
Crisp mentioned one landowner had plans for a small portion, but that it would be compatible with the overall project.
Crisp addressed previous discussion of the creation of a corridor to Jackson Street from Pearlman Park, mentioning that it would pose difficulties since it would require going through buildings that currently have tenants, keeping it from being a near-term option.
Brandon made a motion to commission architect plans for Pearlman Park and postpone Jackson Street. The motion was seconded, passing unanimously.