Downtown parking lot to include event space

WOODSTOCK – A new town parking area was the topic of discussion Monday at a downtown parking lot improvement project conceptual review meeting in Woodstock.

The proposed parking lot would be located behind buildings along the east side of the 100 block of South Main Street, and would cost an estimated $500,000 to construct. The town has also already negotiated a 30-year lease of property agreement with current property owners where the parking lot will be built.

Lemuel Hancock, urban designer and neighborhood planner for the Town of Woodstock, said the process began back in 2013 with a strategic plan, followed by a 2014 preliminary engineering report. In 2015, the project received approval to become a Capital Improvement Plan project. A geotechnical survey was completed, and in 2016 Waterstreet Studio was hired as the landscape architecture and engineering firm.

He added that the goals of the downtown parking lot project were not only to increase downtown parking, but also to creatively manage storm water and increase the town’s urban tree canopy.

“We want to maximize the space that we have available,” he added.

Todd Shallenberger and Ashley Stinson, of Waterstreet Studio, presented the details of the project, noting that there were many design elements that could be altered after community feedback.

Shallenberger said that the parking lot would not only serve as a parking facility, but could also be used as a space for special outside events.

Right now, he said, a plain parking lot is located behind the building.

“We hope to transform that into something more than just a parking lot,” he said.

He added that they want to create an eye-catching site behind the storefronts and said one of the questions he asked himself when working on this project was “How do we turn this ‘back’ into a ‘front’?”

There would be a total of about 50 parking spaces split up between two separate parking areas. Also included in the proposal was a graveled park with benches and trees to add green space. Pedestrian walkways will also be added in order to separate pedestrian and vehicular traffic, he added.

At the farthest point of the parking lot, a bioretention area would be built as a storm water detention garden with trees to collect extra water flowing down the site. Flooding in that area has become a problem due to the street grades sloping and ponding in certain areas.

The existing pipes under the pavement would be replaced with larger pipes, he said, to prevent flooding. Porous pavement would be used to absorb storm water.

The alleyway between Woodstock Café & Shoppes and Walton & Smoot Pharmacy would also receive updates. Shallenberger said the pavement would be replaced with porous pavement, and a pedestrian walkway would be created along one side. He also suggested adding plants or a mural along the walls to create a more aesthetically pleasing area and a possible sign or archway above the alleyway.

Stinson spoke about possible materials that could be used for these projects – such as colored stones, pavement and walkways for creating different traffic sections or rest areas with benches.

Lighting she suggested includes light posts matching those already used downtown, as well as hanging lights above the proposed parking lots and along the alleyway. The goal, she said, is to offer a “safe, pedestrian-friendly” area.

Tree options she suggested – serviceberry, river birch, ironwood, swamp white oak, London planetree and black gum – could line the parking areas, with smaller trees along the pedestrian walkways and seating area.

These options “put the park in your parking lot,” she said.

A dumpster enclosure was presented as an eye-pleasing way of housing a dumpster.

Offering a tentative schedule for the rest of the project, Shallenberger said a drawing for the project design should be completed around September of October. He anticipated 13 weeks of construction beginning in January.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com