[12/31/21] 2021 In Review: HDCA And Downtown Revitalization

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Among the big stories this year was the Historic Downtown Chelan Association’s efforts to revitalize the downtown core. It’s been two years in the making, and this year began with a survey to find out what kind of things people would like to see downtown. HDCA Executive Director Erin McArdle:

After the HDCA compiled all the results, the preliminary plan was released last month. The proposed revitalization project has four key elements: improving and connecting the pathways to downtown; creating a true center of downtown; improvements to infrastructure; and improvements to alleys. The projects would include putting in new street crossings for pedestrians and having a continuous pathway leading users from the parking lots to downtown and Riverwalk Park; and additional lighting and landscaping. The plan would create a center of downtown at the intersection of Woodin and Emerson, to connect the two blocks of Woodin Avenue with enhanced paving and better use of public space at the existing bulb outs. Joanne Strandberg, owner of The Culinary Apple downtown:

Possibly the most controversial proposal deals with the proposed expansion of sidewalks, adding as much as three feet to each sidewalk. The city’s current sidewalks have less than three feet for pedestrian space, and much of that is encroached upon by signage, trees and business service space like outside dining. The HDCA says the proposal is only a first step, that no immediate changes to downtown are planned for now.

But there are immediate changes to the HDCA: today is Erin McArdle’s last day as executive director, she announced her resignation not long after the revitalization proposal was revealed. No replacement has been found for McArdle as of last word.