In a series of meetings, the Blanco Streetscape Committee has presented a new, conceptual design for the town’s historic square. Jack Twilley and Jim Raby prepared and presented a program to illustrate the designs and bring them to life in 3D renderings.
Business and property owners on the Square, along with board members from the Blanco Chamber, attended a meeting on August 23. Monday evening, members from City Council and Planning & Zoning gathered at the Byars Building for their glimpse at the “Blanco-to-be.” A town hall meeting was held on Tuesday evening, after publication time, at the Old Blanco County Courthouse.
At the Monday meeting, Twilley explained that the Streetscape group has come with a new approach: use in-house resources from knowledgeable volunteers and press forward. The goal was a cost-effective approach, Twilley said. The first focus became the intersection of Pecan and 4th streets, followed by the remaining sides of the square, and finally the calming of traffic on US Highway 281.
“We’ll come to you, city council,” Twilley said to the assembled members, “about the first meeting in October to ask for approval.” Following approval, the group will immediately contact the Texas Department of Transportation to get on the agency’s radar.
The original cost of designing the plan was $50,000, explained Twilley, and the new plan, using in-house resources, is estimated at $1,500. State funds (from TxDOT and other sources), grants, fundraising campaigns, and in-kind contributions (labor and/or equipment from the city’s utilities department) were identified as the sources of funding for executing the plan.
Twilley introduced Jim Raby, who has been doing the in-house design work. Raby explained the objectives used in the design: pedestrian friendly, environmentally pleasing, traffic calming, and economically attractive.
Raby showed slides that illustrated the problem areas, such as the offset parking at Blanco Star Antiques and Cuts ‘n’ Curls, as well as the blind corners at the intersection.
The concept includes straightening the sidewalks, adding brick crosswalks, and going to straightened parking, Raby explained.
“We tried to focus on creating a safe environment by using certain types of materials,” Raby added. The brick crosswalks would show pedestrians and drivers the area designated for pedestrians, hopefully to slow traffic and stop jaywalking.
The design includes lamp posts on the corners, Raby continued, to light up the area, with benches that both provide seating and protect people in case a vehicle leaves the roadway.
Phases 1 and 2 intend to address parking, traffic flow, pedestrian flow, lighting, ADA compliance, drainage, utilities, and business access, Raby explained.
“We feel like this will not only help Blanco but the business people in Blanco,” Raby concluded.
Twilley explained the next steps for the group. Following council approval, the group will go to TxDOT during the conceptual time. Twilley pointed to other cities, including Kaufman, Killeen, and Junction, that received TxDOT grants for beautification.
The full cost and duration is unknown, Twilley said, until the full design is worked out.