City officials will unveil the finished design drawings Tuesday for a newly imagined downtown mall streetscape.
CUMBERLAND — City officials will unveil the finished design drawings Tuesday for a newly imagined downtown mall streetscape.
The color drawings, prepared by William Cochran Studios of Frederick, will depict the mall after renovations — set to begin in the fall — are complete. The mall will be excavated to replace the below-ground utility lines and add new fiber optics. Once that stage is complete, Baltimore Street will be reinstalled and a new streetscape will be constructed.
The Times-News met Friday with the project’s work group that included designer William Cochran, Councilwoman Laurie Marchini; Matt Miller, Cumberland Economic Development Corp. executive director; Julie Westerndorf, director of the Allegany Arts Council; Robert Smith, city engineer; Melinda Kelleher, executive director of the Downtown Development Commission, and Allison Layton, citizen service representative for the city of Cumberland.
Marchini said people will be able to view the drawings Tuesday at 10 a.m. online. “I think it will be amazing and people will be drawn to it. I couldn’t be happier,” said Marchini. “I feel like, this is what we should have been and now it is what we will be.”
The new design depicts the downtown mall open for one-way west-to-east vehicular traffic. The addition of Baltimore Street, 20 parallel parking spaces, sidewalks, dining areas and plazas are achieved without curbs, thus keeping a pedestrian mall feel at the location. Differentiations will be accomplished by color changes in the surface pavers for each segment.
High canopy London Plane trees will be installed along with new light poles with electrical outlets at the bottom on each.
“The beautiful high trees create a canopy keeping it cooler in summer,” said Cochrane. “There are so many benefits to this. I believe it can help grow the area and really open it. It’s open, transparent and filled with light. It’s a showcase. You have some wonderful architecture and this enhances that.”
“It’s exciting,” said Westerndorf. “We will have the aesthetics that we were really lacking. I think people will see a much improved space.”
Planters will be on wheels, which will allow them to be rolled out to block the streets for events. Space for outdoor dining will be included. Parklets, located where Mechanic and Liberty streets meet Baltimore Street, will both be reimagined as plazas with new benches, and plantings, and a waterfall added at the Liberty Street plaza. The plaza at Liberty and Baltimore streets will also include a roll-out stage for live performances.
Smith sees major improvement with infrastructure.
“The biggest thing is the better access to water lines to facilitate fire suppression for upper story development,” he said. “Also the access to the fiber optics will allow the next generation of connectivity that younger people will be attracted to. It really is a generational project, not a short term project.”
Kelleher said the potential was there, but needed bringing out.
“When I started looking at this I realized how much more it really could be,” she said. “It will bring more people back downtown. We have three more businesses coming in the next couple of months. The fact that they are willing to open before all of this even happens … it’s because they see the benefit of what will be. They want to get established before it will start.”
Miller said he hopes people take time to see the unveiling. “It’s an opportunity for a positive, feel-good moment for everyone,” he said. “This is happening and it is going to work. We believe this is a turning point for us as a community.”
Anyone interested in seeing the drawings and learning more can view the Baltimore Street Redevelopment Project Public Kickoff online Tuesday at 10 a.m. Links to the event — including Facebook, YouTube and a special event webpage — can be found by visiting www.ci.cumberland.md.us, the city of Cumberland’s official website.
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