New city project will help welcome visitors to Homer

Jun 8, 2021

Credit City of Homer

The City of Homer this week is kicking off a study that has two goals; one, helping visitors to Homer find their way around with confidence, and two, making Pioneer Ave. a more welcoming destination.
    The city has hired Corvus Design of Anchorage to facilitate the discussion and gather public input. Peter Briggs is a company landscape architect and planner.
    “We're just at the very beginning of it. So a key thing is that we're basically on Wednesday setting up a whole day of meeting out at the different locations, pending on a schedule,” Briggs said. “And then whoever shows up to talk to us to help us understand what works well, what doesn't work so well, opportunities and constraints you know, good ideas, that kind of thing.”
    Brigs said the intent of the program is to give visitors, either by plane, boat or automobile, relevant information about the city.
    “When someone drives into Homer up at the overlook, they would get a better idea of where the central business district is, (and) what that offers. Same thing for Old Town or out on the Spit,” he said. “And then as they're coming into town and the vehicles there’ll be good, better signage to direct them to Old Town or to the central business district and understand where they can park. And then when people have parked down there, then that there is some mapping or signage that helps them find businesses or points of interest.”
    Julie Engebretsen is the City of Homer’s Deputy Planner.
    “You know, we’ve reached a point along Pioneer Ave. where our streets are paved and parts of our sidewalk has been repaired, and a lot of the trees that were originally there, like the mountain ash and some of the spruce trees, they either don't look so good anymore, or they've fallen prey to moose or they've been removed for various reasons,” Engebretsen said. “And it's a great time for the city to look at how can we invest in some landscaping and some streetscape improvements along Pioneer Avenue to encourage visitors and residents to spend more time in our downtown supporting local businesses.”
    The effort is called the Homer Wayfinding and Streetscape Project.
    “So when we talk about ‘streetscape,’ we talk about things like having benches that are kind of coordinated or trash cans or street banners and things like that,” she said. “So that when you reach a point like the Pioneer and Main St. intersection, where there's been all that great landscaping, it feels inviting to sit down and to spend some time.”
    A couple of years ago the City of Soldotna underwent a similar project facilitated by Corvus Design.
    “The one thing that's been made very clear to us is that with Homer, that there's the right ‘Homer solution’ that we're trying to find that, you know, it has the warmth of the community to it as well,” Briggs said.
    “We're not looking for it to look like every other place in the country where the signs are kind of plastic in a way, or feel like it could be anywhere. We want to keep that Homer eclectic feel,” Engebretsen said. “But at the same time, we want to grow and mature a little bit so that when you're in Homer walking around town, you know that there's wayfinding signage. So if you're a pedestrian walking around from a cruise ship or visiting the community, you can get around and find the locations you're looking for.”
Corvus will spend two days this week gathering information from the public at various locations around town, starting on Baycrest Hill tomorrow, and ending with a public video conference Thursday evening. You can find more information and a complete schedule at Homer Wayfinding.blogspot.com.