By Katy Savage
About 50 people attended a public meeting at the Paramount Theatre Monday April 25 to discuss a redesign of Center Street in Rutland.
Consultants Dubois & King, Inc. presented three options —making Center Street a pedestrian-only street, making it open to one-lane traffic or keeping it as a two-lane street with design improvements.
Most of the people favored reducing Center Street to one-lane traffic or pedestrian-only, but many in the community have questioned if Center Street will be successful with reduced traffic. Resident Joe Menoff said Monday he wanted to keep Center Street as is.
Dayton Crites, a senior planner for Dubois & King, told the crowd that some business owners were concerned about the loss of parking spaces. Some wanted to know if a pedestrian-only street could work in Rutland. Crites said he’s researched many pedestrian-only streets.
“I’ll be transparent …the ones that work are all college towns,” Crites told a small crowd that gathered around him.
Some wanted to take advantage of nearby Killington Resort, which can attract around 20,000 on weekends. Others saw this as an opportunity to bring new love to the city and step away from its drug-induced image. Some wanted Center Street to have space for outdoor events.
Dubois & King shared design details that could be incorporated into the street, including art walls, planters and greenery, statues, an amphitheater and new street lighting. If the city moves forward with a one-way street, Dubois & King proposed placing a park in the middle.
“For decades, we’ve thought of streets for moving cars,” Crites said. “As we’ve become more urban, there’s issues to that approach. Maybe streets should also serve the role as parks and town gathering places.”
Crites, who moved to Rutland in 2019, said Center Street could be a “destination.”
“This is a great street, it just needs a reinvestment and … a vision” Crites said. “We’re just talking about dressing it up a little.”
The discussion to redesign Center Street started decades ago. Parklets were recently added to the street as other design improvements continue to be studied.
Rutland Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Brennan Duffy said he was looking for consensus from the public about how to move forward. “We’re probably looking at, before the end of the fiscal year, having our study completed,” Duffy said in a phone call.
The study will then be brought to the Board of Aldermen to make the decision to move forward or not.
In the meantime, there is a survey on the downtown Rutland partnership website that people can fill out until mid-May.