The gradual un-making of 20th century planning
Today's installment: Mankato, MN. You may not of Mankato - it's a smallish college town southwest of the Twin Cities. I actually know it fairly well, as in my junior high days I attended a summer camp at what was then called Mankato State University (now Minnesota State University). So, it's great to see this story from Matthias Leyrer about changes to downtown Mankato's streets:
During the three meetings that I attended, most of the business owners were concerned about parking. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t seem to believe me when I said that people are driving less and that we shouldn’t be so concerned about parking, but in the end, I think we have a good project that accommodates concerns of pedestrians and cars.
The partnership hired Damon Farber Associates who put together a plan on how to best accomplish a pedestrian-oriented culture. The time frame on this project is another big win for Mankato, as they’re hoping to have everything done by this fall. You can view renderings for downtown here.
The plan will give more on-street parking to the blocks that requested it (the 600 block), the 500 block will be getting 16 foot sidewalks for outdoor dining and walkability and the 400 block (pedestrian only) will be getting a facelift to be more open. The three blocks will also be getting more trees and sidewalk “bump outs” to slow traffic and reduce the distance pedestrians need to cross from street to street. The plan is also getting a shot in the arm from the newly announced Tailwind projects that are bringing new life to downtown Mankato. I’ll have more on that in a forthcoming article.
Like so many places, this is important work to undo some of the legion of bad planning from the 20th century. It affected cities large and small, from coast to coast. Mankato had its heart ripped out, and now is fighting to get it back. Here's hoping this is the first in a series of steps to move in the right direction.