9/2/2014

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North 1st Street improvements to include more greenery

North 1st Street improvements to include more greenery
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima is looking for a second chance to make a first impression. The city is working with architects to revitalize North 1st Street. They brought several options to help showcase the entryway to the city. KIMA got a first look at the plans.

Alan Gipson has a passion for classic cars. He's the general manager of Back in the Day Motorsports on North 1st Street.

"This is the main entrance to the northern part of Yakima, and it's...overall, it's not bad."

Not bad, but not good either. Prompting this latest meeting of the Built Environment Committee. The group focuses on Yakima's priorities.

"The North 1st Street corridor is clearly one of the most important gateways into the city of Yakima and, unfortunately, has deteriorated over the last several years," says Yakima Communications Director Randy Beehler.

At the meeting, architects presented officials with three options.

The first is a plan recommended by the committee a couple years ago. It would keep all five lanes on North 1st Street, while adding trees and decorative lamps.

A second option would cut the corridor to four lanes. It would include bike lanes and a median, plus landscaping and lighting.

The third alternative? No bike lanes, but more greenery in the center median.

Architects also suggested wind turbines as an energy source and a form of sculpture. Based on the cost, that suggestion was quickly voted down.

The group picked a hybrid of the third option. Retaining sidewalks on either side of the road and replacing some trees with more low-maintenance landscaping.

"Green elements, trees, planting strips, medians down the middle...it helps to soften an environment and that's part of what the goal is on 1st Street," says Beehler.

The first phase will cover the stretch from the freeway to N Street. Federal money will pay the millions needed to make a better first impression.

Gipson is hopeful.

"The old adage is, you only get one chance."
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