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Committee presents ideas for downtown revitalization   ADVERTISEMENT

Committee presents ideas for downtown revitalization

PENN YAN—Some 30 residents attended the Penn Yan 2020 Vision Steering Committee’s presentation Wednesday, May 15, in the Penn Yan middle school auditorium updating the data the Rochester Regional Community Design Center (RRCDR) is compiling from the Community Design Charrette held in November, 2012. The data presented included several ideas that came out of the charrette which focus on increasing the appeal of the village’s gateways and downtown area, as well as repurposing historic buildings for new uses.

Rochester Regional Community Design Center (RRCDR) Executive Director Joni Monroe called the presentation more of a “community conversation” and encouraged participation from the audience members. Monroe and RRCDR President Roger Brown went through a slideshow presentation addressing some of the areas of focus they have addressed based on data collected during the charrette.
    The charrette was a brainstorming session held in the middle school gymnasium where community members worked in groups to map out ideas they would like to see implemented throughout the village in the near future. Monroe said the RRCDR is still working with the steering committee to refine the data they have, planning to present a final vision plan for the community by September.
    “It is a time of great promise because it is a time of great challenge,” Monroe said. She said many communities are reevaluating the areas they live in, and it is necessary to get the input of citizens to develop a vision plan to steer the community in the right direction as far as what residents would like to see in their village.
    Brown said “no major decisions have been made at all from this process so far,” but did present a few rough schematics based on maps drawn by work groups during the charrette. Brown said one of the major focus points was on revamping the village’s seven major gateways and four minor gateways in order to make Main and Lake Streets the premier corridors in the village. He said appropriate signage at these locations can help divert commercial traffic away from the historic Main Street, while directing travelers and tourists who may have never even known Main Street existed. Brown said the idea of “complete streets” with bike paths, parallel parking areas and pedestrian walkways would also help increase the appeal of Main Street.
    Monroe said historic signage along Main Street was also a point of focus during the charrette, and many people in the village would like to see some of the signs restored. Brown said there were also many old historic buildings that could be repurposed into different uses, similar to what Chris Iversen is doing with his Birkett landing project along Water Street. Brown also said  the single story building where the Elks Club is located could be converted into the two or three story buildings similar to what is seen in the rest of the village, with a first floor storefront and possible residential space in the floors above.
    Brown said the Lake Street Plaza could be reconfigured as well in order to increase retail and residential capacity. He said one of the ideas was to create some sort of green space and make it more pedestrian friendly, which would prevent the site from being underutilized. 
    Monroe said this is only a preliminary halfway point, and more work needs to be done to develop the vision plan. She said there will be various possibilities and examples drawn up in the vision plan, but it is ultimately up to the village to decide which ideas they will implement. She encouraged residents to participate in the steering committee and take an active stance in their community.