By Sarah Pridgeon
Kelley Savage, landscape architect with Robert Peccia & Associates, presented the completed master plan for Sundance’s Main Street project last week after consolidating the information gathered during the study into a 60-page document for the city’s use.
Savage covered the highlights of the report, which is intended as a high-level vision of the future of downtown Sundance. She reiterated the major factors identified as areas for improvement.
“Signage and wayfinding was identified early on as something that could use some improvements,” said Savage. “The other key thing we looked at was connectivity, which would be roads, sidewalks, circulation, pedestrian circulation.”
Other issues identified included the lack of a public gathering place and the architecture in the downtown area, particularly the facades of building.
“There are not a lot of historic buildings left here, so how do we create a good quality downtown and have that sense of character in some sort of authentic manner?” she said.
The document, said Savage, contains suggestions and recommendations to address these items and the next steps to implement them. The plan is not just for tourists, she stressed, but to meet the needs of the people who live in and around town.
During the study, 80 respondents provided feedback on their desires for the future of Sundance. Savage summed these up in three keywords: historic, comfortable and welcoming.
Among the improvement suggestions in the document are pedestrian crossings for safety, the restoration of Old Stoney as a catalyst for developing a true town center and a “town square” where Central Office currently stands.
“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here, we want to work with what Sundance already has. It’s a small community, we don’t want to establish something that’s not achievable,” she said.
To achieve historic character, Savage suggested respecting the history of the town to see what can be pulled from to achieve an overall look. The feedback suggested that a lot of people have very high expectations of the name of Sundance and feel they are not met when they arrive here, she said.
Sundance has views, scenery and access to recreation that’s not available elsewhere, she continued, suggesting that this be capitalized on to make visitors want to stay longer. She also recommended more activities in the evening and encouraging some of the businesses to stay open longer.
One challenge ahead is that Sundance has two main thoroughfares and Cleveland is the state highway through town. How do you point people to Main Street, too, she asked?
She suggested a street crossing at the town square and signage to achieve this, as well as connecting historic buildings through architecture to make businesses more visible to visitors and paying attention to the areas that are key visual approaches to the city.
Savage also spoke of “streetscape amenities” and the importance of adding items of visual interest that can be maintained easily, such as flower pots, benches, awnings, murals and windows. She suggested a hitching post as a “signature feature” of Sundance with historic western character, as well as a “pocket” park in front of the planned new veterans hall for such things as outdoor movies in the summer and night lighting to allow evening programming.
Business owners are already expressing an interest in renovating their facades, said Savage, so the report includes guidelines for doing so to allow the city and Land Use Planning to use their best judgment to ascertain whether plans meet these requirements.
Savage stated that changes should be considered in the context of surrounding buildings and that the city should make sure new buildings meet same criteria, as well as look to historic buildings that are no longer standing as guidance for the “historic” feel. For example, the guidelines suggest limiting the use of stucco as this is typical of more industrial areas and creating consistent signage for businesses.
In terms of implementation and next steps, Savage made several recommendations within the report, such as getting everyone to work together on a single identity for Sundance and creating a design review committee. Marketing and promotion should convey a “specific, single identity”, she said.
The document outlines funding resources to help the city get started, including for such items as ADA compliance, energy efficiency for façades and overall façade improvements for replacing signs.
She suggested evaluating all buildings in the downtown area structurally and beginning a signage and wayfinding program to begin identifying the destinations that the city would like to direct visitors to. The Main Street Steering Committee will now get together to discuss its next steps, said Andy Miller.