About 80 Nelson residents turned up at the Nelson Chamber of Commerce meeting room Monday night to look at the latest version of the city’s plans for Railtown.
Viewers were invited to use three stickers each to indicate their priorities on a number of sheets on the wall representing the five precincts (shown below) in the plan.
The charts and graphics around the room were the result of several planning workshops as well as feedback already received at an open house on Feb. 25 along with 165 survey responses and feedback received by email, according to city planner Pam Mierau.
She said the material presented still isn’t written in stone and that until the end of June the public can comment on the project’s website at nelsonrailtown.com.
Members of the public visited the illustrations around the room, voted with stickers, and put comments on sticky notes. Consultant Joaquin Karakas talked about the plan and answered questions.
In the Market Precinct, the project that got the most votes was Creekside trail (13) followed by support arts and culture (6), Railway St. improvements (5), and multi-family residential (5). Other project choices that got more than one vote were new live-work buildings, and historic marker and falls view park.
This precinct is located around the Cottonwood Falls market site.
In the Live-Work Precinct, pedestrian and cycling connection won with 13 votes, followed by Baker St. connection (6) and mixed use apartments (5). Others that received more than one vote were precinct park and Government Rd. improvements.
This precinct is located on privately owned land on the west end of Railtown.
In the Railyard Precinct, Connect to the waterfront got 17 votes, followed by reveal Cottonwood Creek (13), improve pedestrian experience (8), park at superintendent’s house (7), and flexible parking and events plaza (6).
This precinct is the area surrounding and to the northwest of the refurbished CPR station.
In the Industry Precinct, establish pedestrian and cycling connections got six votes, followed by Government Rd. improvements (4) and continue to support light industries (2).
This precinct is located at the centre of Railtown including the area around Maglio Building Supplies.
In the Heritage Commercial Precinct, Creekside Trail got 10 votes, followed by mixed-use multi-family (6). Three projects got five votes: Gasworks gallery and event space, Cottonwood Creek improvements, and interim market parking. Improve Railway St. got four votes.
The Heritage Precinct is in the area of the historic Coke and Gasworks building on Railway St.
Overall, projects related to improving or enhancing Cottonwood Creek got a total of 32 votes across three different precincts.
Three issues proved somewhat controversial during the question period, meaning that they were mentioned by more than one person:
• the concern that there isn’t enough parking overall.
• the location of the proposed market appears to encroach into what some people see as Cottonwood Falls Park but which the city says is not actually part of the park.
• the location of condos in the area currently inhabited by the market.
Much more information about the improvements envisioned for all five precincts and the rationale behind them can be found at nelsonrailtown.com. The plan will be presented to city council for approval in September.
The material presented Monday envisions implementation as a multi-year process between three partners: residents and community organizations, government, and business.
Karakas pointed out that much of the land in the plan is privately owned, and that therefore the plan is not a prescription but a guideline. The city’s materials presented at the meeting state that the plan “is not intended to be implemented only by the City. Instead, business and real estate development will be a market driven process, supported by strategic public investments and an engaged community.”
The city’s materials identify short, medium and long term actions for implementation.
Priorities for the short term (one to three years) include infrastructure changes such as water and sewer, demolition of the four city-owned houses in the area, new infrastructure for Cottonwood Market, support for light industries to locate in Railtown, pedestrian improvements at the intersection of Baker St. and the highway, environment site assessment and remediation of the Coke and Gas Works building, formalizing a parking plaza at the Rod and Gun Club, Cottonwood Creek improvements, work with CP Rail on developing an overhead walkway to the waterfront, setting up a task force to co-ordinate overall implementation, and a revitalization tax exemption program.