Homer’s Old Town neighborhood will use money from the Homer Accelerated Roads and Trails Program fund, or HART fund, with the intent of making the area more pedestrian and biker-friendly.
The nearly $100,000 will mainly be used to widen Bunnell Avenue, turn Charles Way into a designated walking and biking path and pave the Beluga Slough Trailhead. The plan has been several months in the making. People who live, work and visit the area have expressed concern over how fast vehicles drive and a lack of room for both car and foot or bike traffic. They’ve asked for things like reduced speed limits, crosswalks and better signage.
Charles Davis lives on Charles Way in Old Town. He said improved signs that show how to get to Bishop’s Beach are a must. People often wind up in front of his house looking for access.
“If I had a nickel for every car that came down Charles Way looking for the beach the last two months, we could go to Honolulu tonight for supper,” he said.
Another item the supporters of the project have had on their wish list: removable speed bumps.
“When I think of the role that these sleeping policemen have in calming traffic when our local law enforcement is strained to be everywhere that they need to be, it would be wise to have this as a measure of gentle enforcement for the tremendous enthusiasm that Bishop’s Beach arouses for the motor vehicle,” Bunnell Street Art Center Executive Director Asia Freeman said.
But it turned out that wasn’t something the city council was willing to give. City Manager Walt Wrede said speed bumps, removable or otherwise, typically don’t go on dead end streets. Also, he was concerned about the high demand from other neighborhoods.
“There’s a number of neighborhoods in town that really, really could use speed bumps. We thought it might be better to just wait and see if the new signage and the new striping and the new pavement works,” he said.
Wrede said he would like the city to have a set of criteria in place before officials begin putting speed bumps in spots around town. Council member Beau Burgess agreed and mentioned that could be a good “winter project” for the council.
There’s another piece of this improvement puzzle… Bunnell Street Arts Center is seeking proposals for things like landscape design, mural mosaics and other permanent public art. The center has $70,000 at its disposal, which will be divvied up among at least five artists in residence. The money is part of the ArtPlace grant the gallery received. The next proposal deadline for landscape and garden designs is Aug. 1. After that, the next deadline for permanent public art and art events proposals is Dec. 1. Anyone who wants to participate must submit a letter of interest, a draft budget and a resume.