The draft plan for the Près Isle footbridge is open for public comment
The comprehensive plan for Millcreek Township provides for an entrance neighborhood to Almost Isle State Park.
“However, leading up to the park, there’s really no way of knowing the park is nearby other than a small sign on Peninsula Drive,” reads a draft plan of the almost Isle walkway.
Installing arches over West Eighth Street and poles with “Presque Isle Gateway District” signs is one of the ways the draft plan suggests to mark the area as a special place.
“Very good idea. This certainly beats the random signs directing people to Almost Isle currently in use,” said an anonymous comment left on the plan’s website. Another called the arches “classic”.
Further community feedback on the draft plan will be accepted online until February 25. To review the project and share your thoughts, go to millcreektownship.com/gatewayplan. Matt Waldinger, Millcreek’s director of planning and development, said people can also call him with comments at the township building, 814-833-1111.
“We are awaiting public comments,” Waldinger said.
He said the township hopes to have a final draft by early to mid-March. Waldinger was still waiting to hear if Millcreek had received a $6.3 million grant from the state to help pay for walkway improvements.
“We still have hope,” he said.
The Township in 2021 accepted public suggestions for the Gateway District.
The purpose of the Almost Isle Gateway District Plan, according to the website, is to identify and unite local and regional assets, including Almost Isle State Park, Scott Park, Waldameer Park & Water World, Colony Plaza , West Erie Plaza and a variety of other local businesses. The plan would also create a cohesive, multifunctional neighborhood that leverages these assets and builds character and quality of place that drives economic development to serve residents and visitors, the site said.
Almost Isle State Park attracts over 4 million visitors a year.
While the state park, known locally as the Peninsula, has already been identified as the district’s theme, public input is being sought on how aspects of Près Isle might be incorporated into the signs and banners. . Options include those showing the shape of the peninsula, a heron or a leaf.
Waldinger said the theme, with visual cues starting at West 12th Street and heading north, would help people realize they were getting closer to “something special.” The district also covers the area from Pittsburgh Avenue in the east to Wyoming Avenue in the west, he said.
He said that because it is still in the design stage, the plan does not include certain details, such as the height of the arches above West Eighth Street.
The draft plan also includes other concepts for West Eighth as well as Peninsula Drive, West Sixth Street and West 12th Street, identified as the most important gateway corridors.
West Sixth Street could become the main bike boulevard, with bike lanes on either side of the two motor vehicle lanes. On-street corner parking could be added at West Eighth Street near Colony Plaza between Sommerheim Drive and Lowell Avenue. Grassy areas with consistent trees and sidewalks could run along West 12th Street. Peninsula Drive could lose its two-way center turn lane to make way for bike lanes.
Several comments on the plan’s website called for buffer zones between cycle lanes and car lanes and opposed reverse angle parking and the removal of the turning lane.
The project also includes a streetscape master plan for West Eighth Street with a continuous sidewalk, grass and trees along both sides of the street, granite curbs, lighting at pedestrian level, furniture such as as benches and litter bins as well as high-visibility bike racks and crosswalks.
Under other recommendations, the draft plan suggests investigating the feasibility of a roundabout at West Sixth Street and Peninsula Drive. This idea received negative feedback.
Waldinger said the draft plan was prepared by Ingalls Planning & Design, a consultant based in Rochester, New York, in consultation with the Township of Millcreek.