04 August 2015

$80,000.00 for A Cosmetic Make-Over to Downtown??

Looks like the City of Mesa is throwing fast money at a problem they haven't had the solution to solve even after about 18 different "plans to revitalize" downtown Mesa in the last forty years produced the mix of building architecture, streetscapes and land-uses residents and visitors can see today. It's the legacy of decades of urban planning gone any which way . . .
On June 3, 2015 - about sixty days or two months ago - we all found out in a very public announcement with a lot of fanfare and hoopla that the 3.1 mile Valley Metro Light Rail Central Mesa Extension would be completed ahead of time going into full-service on August 22nd. 
Who knows if there was any advance planning for the arrival of public transit and the competition it would bring to arts/culture and downtown businesses that now would be linked with those in Tempe and Phoenix? 
It's like all of a sudden when Uncle Joe told you he's coming to town earlier than you expected and you wanna go out to buy a new dress and get dolled up
.
According to an article by Maria Polletta in yesterday's Arizona Republic
Makeover Ahead Downtown Mesa 
City and development officials now want to launch [wrong verb for the dry desert] a series of "experimental projects to shake up" and "change the look and feel" of downtown Mesa, calling it a design laboratory where there will be a much more extensive community-outreach component, but that's after light rail service starts [?]
The downtown Mesa laboratory idea comes from the City Manager's Office where management assistant Neil Curley made a presentation to a city council study session [video link below] using the words "kind of" at least 20 times during the brief discussion. Chris Brady stated that $30K of the funds are unused Business Assistance Grants from NEDCO and $50K are from the privately-owned nonprofit Downtown Merchants Association - two of the same official development agencies involved for  years downtown with different proposals and promises yielding mixed results.
As recently as May 20, 2015 the City's Director of Arts & Culture was calling downtown Mesa "charming" . . . so, all of a sudden, why the change in outlook?
Valley Metro always delivers on its promises - this time seven weeks ahead of schedule - apparently putting the downtown planners into a scramble to respond quickly to the good news for the long-awaited transition and transformation in the New Urban Downtown Mesa.

Valley Metro is already changing the look and feel of Main Street with decorative brick-red asphalt stamping and street painting at all the crosswalks and intersections that matches the brick patterns on alleys parallel to and entering Main Street. Station platforms with monumental public artworks have been installed changing the visual landscape in a big way and - if truth be told WE DON'T NEED CARS ON MAIN STREET ANYMORE!
Except for the crosswalks and street intersections, get rid of that heat-island oiled asphalt and turn Main Street into a linear park . . . The Mayor's "a fan of shade", wants to get rid of the shade-providing colonnades that are part of territorial architecture [and wants businesses to pay for new shade structures?] --- Mother Nature's got an answer for that : USE TREES, the original shade structure . . . with light rail there's really no need for cars on Main Street. That all makes sense in "a pedestrian-friendly environment" in the slower perspective of walking around downtown - the fa├žades just don't whiz by - they invite you into the sidewalk storefronts.
Back in October of last year - 10 months ago - members were appointed by the mayor to The Ad-Hoc Downtown Vision Committee, apparently not producing "the vision" they were given the task to do even four months after the six-month deadline.

The City Council didn't have a so-called "Study Session" until July 8th
Your MesaZona blogger always likes to see and look at first-hand information, like this Channel 11 video of the City Council study session.
 
Watch it and see for yourself, only 14:38

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