The downtown plaza outside of the post office may be getting a new look, as the Town looks to undertakes a revitalization project, funded by a grant obtained from the Columbia Basin Trust.
The current plaza was constructed in 1987, and hasn’t been updated in the 32 years since.
“Change can be scary for people, but it’s time to make some improvements from a functionality prospect and from an aesthetic perspective,” said Jason Jones of Larch landscape architecture, and the lead designer on the project. “For those who are doubting the necessity of the change, I hope once they see the final product they’ll decide that it was a necessary improvement and that it will really improve the livability of Golden.”
At Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, Jones presented his two preliminary concepts to Council, who all responded positively to Jones’ designs.
The two concepts include features such as more bike parking and bike repair stations, water refilling stations, and improved safety for the crosswalks.
There will also be increased public seating and shade, in order to improve the usability of the square as a public gathering place. The concepts are designed to encourage people to use the area for outdoor lunches, and will facilitate meetings, according to Jones.
“The project goals, which are based on public input, are to improve the general functionality of the plaza,” said Jones. “We want to increase community interaction and improve walkability in the area and reduce wildlife issues.”
The suggested improvements to the plaza also have the possibility of incorporating public art installations, as well as an artistic imprint on the ground that ties the plaza in to spirit square and the Kicking Horse river.
“I think it’s important to have the Downtown Plaza area connect and tie in with features in the Spirit Square and the upcoming dike project,” said Mayor Ron Oszust in an email. “I think we should draw attention to the Kicking Horse River and possibly the Columbia in that area.”
One of the major changes that Jones proposes is to the fountain. One of the concepts suggests a modified water feature, while the other does away with it entirely.
“I don’t think we need to have a water feature in the Downtown Plaza,” said Oszust. “We’re a stone’s throw away from the Kicking Horse River and the water feature at Spirit Square. Do we really need another water feature so close to mother nature’s river?”
A lot of the ideas from Jones’ concepts were sourced from the public. Jones spent time on the ground, observing the plaza, in order to pin point the problem areas in the square. He also spoke one on one with Golden residents, and collected data from multiple surveys.
Jones was then able to base his concepts in the information that he had gathered.
“It was great hearing people’s thoughts on how they used the plaza and why or why not they spent time there for prolonged periods of time,” said Jones. “Some excellent ideas were put forward and I tried to act like a sponge and take it all in, and translate that into a design that’s right for Golden.”
For Jones, this project isn’t just about improving the downtown. Having grown up in Golden, this new project is a dream come true. He gets to contribute to an important part of Golden’s core.
“I’m excited to be working on a downtown project in my hometown,” said Jones. “Both designs so far have lots of merit, and I’m looking forward to showing Golden how their input translated into the design.”
The next steps for the project are for Council to get back to Jones on their preferred concept, so that he can start working on a final design. Elements from both can be combined for the final concept. After that, Jones will be making a final presentation with the design and a more detailed cost estimate in the coming weeks.