The City of Pullman will apply for a grant to fund building outdoor gathering spaces on Main Street intended to attract more people downtown.
It is also moving forward in planning traffic revisions that would temporarily reduce Main Street to two lanes, add back-in angled parking and create a protected bike lane downtown.
These changes would serve as a “pop-up demonstration” of the concepts proposed in the Central Business District Master Plan introduced in February. The city hired BDS Planning and Urban Design to create that master plan, which explores ways of improving the function and appeal of downtown Pullman.
The Pullman City Council supported these ideas and voted in favor of applying for a grant from the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee of as much as $17,500 to pay for the outdoor gathering spaces, known as parklets.
“I’m in wholehearted support of this,” Councilor Eileen Macoll said of the parklets.
Pullman Finance Director Mike Urban said the grant funds come from lodging tax dollars and not money from the city’s general fund.
Jennifer Hackman, Pullman economic development manager, said parklets are public outdoor seating areas with movable furniture on ADA accessible platforms. They are meant to help attract pedestrians and bicyclists downtown.
She said the city is envisioning two curbside parklets on Main Street and a parklet on Pine Street Plaza and High Street Plaza.
Hackman said several Main Street businesses she has contacted are supportive of this idea.
“I know of two businesses that are very, very interested at this point,” Hackman said.
She said the city hopes to build the parklets by mid-July.
The city is also continuing its plans to temporarily reduce the number of lanes on East Main Street from three to two. This would create room for back-in parking on the south side of Main Street, which would add to the total number of parking spaces downtown.
A protected bike lane would also be created on the south side of Main Street behind the parking spaces. Concrete barriers would separate the parking and the bike lane. Councilmember Ann Parks pointed out that bicyclists can still ride in the traffic lane on the north side of Main Street, if they choose.
To go forward with these changes, the city must first send its plans to the Washington Department of Transportation for approval. The street revisions are estimated to cost $2,000-$5,000 from the city’s street fund.
The pop-up trial would likely end in late September or early October.
On Tuesday, the Pullman City Council also gave its approval for the city to enter into an agreement with the Washington state Department of Commerce to access as much as $1,036,800 in money from the CARES Act. This money is intended to be used only for necessary expenses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic between March 1 and Oct. 31.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at email@example.com.