Support Local Journalism


Subscribe


It is still in the discussion stages, but the Ellensburg City Council is investigating the idea of making Pearl Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues into a pedestrian only zone called the Pearl Street Promenade.

The council has voiced support of studying the impacts of the Pearl Street closure between Fourth and Fifth Avenue, hiring ECONorthwest to provide a study to the potential impacts, both positive and negative.

“We are still gathering public input, but I was looking at some of the Facebook comments. From the city’s perspective, really, we’re looking to gather information and public input,” Mayor Bruce Tabb said.

“Whatever comes out of the survey and the work that the consultant does. We’ll have another conversation with council, parks and rec. and the broader community. There has been no decision whatsoever.”

The Ellensburg Downtown Association believes the change, along with the future development of Unity Park, will result in economic vitality throughout the downtown, create a destination zone, attract new businesses to the downtown, and enhance the downtown music, culture, and arts scene.

Work on the Pearl Street closure analysis is expected to be completed by mid-December to inform the future use of the adjacent streets, which could be incorporated into the Unity Park design.

What is being studied?

There is a diverse set of businesses and residents in downtown Ellensburg, which uses the public right of way and off-street parking differently. This project is considering the impacts of closing Pearl Street for businesses and residents. There are three types of street closures currently being considered.

Temporary closure: This option would close Pearl Street to cars at recurring predetermined times. Other cities have closed streets from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends during the summer, allowing pedestrians and businesses to use the street during those hours with temporary traffic barriers.

Seasonal closure: This option would close Pearl Street to cars permanently for a portion of the year only. For example, Kelowna B.C. has closed the downtown street Bernard Avenue between May and September for the past two years, allowing biking, walking, and recreation in the street space during summer months.

Permanent closure: This option would close off Pearl Street to car traffic and make it a pedestrian-only space. For example, Helena Montana’s Walking Mall was created in the 1970s as part of a downtown revitalization initiative incorporates public art, seating, and performance space year-round.

People are encouraged to go online to the city’s website and participate in the survey.

In other action, the city council formulated its plan to fill the Position 7 vacancy generated when councilwoman Tristen Lamb submitted her resignation to attend medical school. Lamb will step down at the end of the year.

“The application process will be online and open through Jan. 7,” Tabb said. “We’ll make a decision as soon as possible.”

The unexpired term ends Dec. 31, 2023. The city council will appoint a qualified person to fill Position 7 until the next election in November 2023.

The application is available online at the city of Ellensburg at www.ci.ellensburg.wa.us or at City Hall, 501 North Anderson Street.

Required qualifications:

• Registered voter of the City of Ellensburg

• A resident of Ellensburg for at least one year preceding the date of appointment.

Rodney Harwood: award-winning journalist and columnist. Lover of golf and the written word. I can be reached at rharwood@kvnews.com