Paul Shutt, owner of one of the historic buildings along Port Townsend’s Water Street, talks with Laura Parsons, a civil engineer with the city of Port Townsend, at an open house Wednesday about plans to rehabilitate part of Water Street. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Paul Shutt, owner of one of the historic buildings along Port Townsend’s Water Street, talks with Laura Parsons, a civil engineer with the city of Port Townsend, at an open house Wednesday about plans to rehabilitate part of Water Street. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Water Street planning continues in Port Townsend

PORT TOWNSEND — City officials continue to seek public input on the final plan for the $2.8 million Water Street Overlay Project.

At an open house Wednesday night, Port Townsend city officials presented the design they have so far and began collecting input from the public on some of the details that have yet to be finalized.

The project design is about 30 percent complete, according to Laura Parsons, a civil engineer for the city. Parsons said the city would like the design to be at 90 percent by the beginning of October, but currently things are “still in flux.”

So far, the final design will include wider sidewalks and sidewalks ramps such as those seen on the north end of Water Street.

A new pedestrian area will be added to the end of Tyler Street in an area that currently is a small parking lot.

“People seem excited about the pedestrian area,” Parsons said. “There’s been a request for more pedestrian space downtown.”

The new area will have seating, shade and string lighting, and Parsons said city officials hope to see it used for small festivals, local art and other small events.

Increased street lighting for pedestrians also is planned.

“There have been complaints that downtown is too dark,” Parsons said. “We’re trying to brighten it up, and there’s a lighting study being done for that.”

Landscaping, striping of parking spots and signage for the project are works in progress.

“There’s a lot of opinions on what kind of trees should be used,” Parsons said.

The city’s tree advisory board is tackling that decision.

The impetus for the Water Street Overlay Project was to replace the 80-year-old water line that runs under the street. Because that would shut down Water Street from the ferry landing to Taylor Street regardless, planners tacked on downtown revitalization.

Bidding is scheduled to open in September, with construction planned for January through June 2018.

“I love this project,” said Paul Shutt, owner of the historic State Bank of Washington building on Water Street. “I think it’s great. People will be inconvenienced by it, but the benefits will outweigh that.”

Shutt said he likes that the project will have more space for pedestrians to walk and hang out in downtown.

“It’s like an extension of what was done up here,” Shutt said about the north end of Water Street. “The sooner we get it done, the better.”

Other than a need for more pedestrian space, the lack of parking downtown has been a major complaint.

“It needs an update, and it’ll be nice to have the new sewer and water updated underground, but parking is a big thing,” said Kevin Alexander, a community member who attended Wednesday’s open house. “There needs to be more space.”

Despite losing four spots by turning the Tyler Street parking lot into the park, the plan for Water Street does add one parking spot.

“That is likely to go up,” Parsons said.

The striping process will create uniform parallel parking spots. Officials are considering making spots 20 feet long and 7 feet wide, which will likely add a few more parking spots.

The plan currently does not include any angled parking.

“The City Council is pretty set against that,” Parsons said.

More information about the project and contact information for public comment can be found at the city’s website at www.cityofpt.us.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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