Pleasantville officials reached out to the public last week for ideas to redesign the civic space in a portion of the village’s downtown and to improve the landscaping.
The Nov. 6 workshop at Village Hall focused on potential improvements to the west end of Memorial Plaza. Mayor Peter Scherer said pedestrian walkways can be enhanced, and if the turn lane from Memorial Plaza onto Manville Road for vehicles is eliminated, a sidewalk and a more attractive communal area could be created.
With the village having obtained a $1.5 million state grant, Scherer said officials can explore an upgrade to the streetscape along Memorial Plaza and Manville Road.
Project planner Phil Myrick and landscape architect Jamie Maslyn Larson led the workshop discussion on the future of the roughly 12,000-square-foot space.
Although Memorial Plaza is a vehicle dominated area, Larson said the village has an opportunity to create a high quality, safe and accessible public space. Adding benches, shrubbery, trees and tables would create a destination that is comfortable and natural. Larson said she’s optimistic that the space can be made more attractive.
“It’s a smallish public space but what we’re trying to do is make it so flexible and usable that it really feels bigger than what it is,” Larson said. “It’s not like we’re going to have football games here, so there’s a lot you can fit into a smallish site.”
Myrick, a Pleasantville resident, instructed the roughly 30 residents who attended the forum to think of ways to make Memorial Plaza a more meaningful and fun area for the community. Each group of residents was asked to focus on everyday uses, central features. attractions and amenities.
As residents mulled possibilities, many agreed the area wouldn’t be big enough to introduce substantial changes. Suggestions were made to eliminate some parking to expand the area.
“Our goal is not to lose parking spaces but rethink the circulation of Memorial Plaza,” Scherer said.
Relocating the monuments to another part of Memorial Plaza and creating a buffer to separate the space from the traffic along Manville Road was recommended. Others stated that a buffer, whether it’s a wooden wall or trees, would reduce noise and make the area safer for children.
Stuart Vance, vice chairman of Foodchester, Inc., the nonprofit operator of the Pleasantville Farmers Market, said while he would like to see a green space with seating, landscaping and overhead lights, the traffic along Manville Road will prevent the area from being an intimate space.
“It (a buffer) would be really important because it’s very, very loud there and it’s ruined by the noise,” Vance said.
Resident Kathy Fox added that the farmers market, which is held on Saturdays from spring through November, needs to be considered when making decisions about how the space will be used.
Residents also suggested implementing Wi-Fi for those who want to work outside, creating a stage for bands, a small theater production or an art show and setting up a temporary screen for outdoor movies. Others suggested creating an activity space with a bocce court and a giant chessboard and to accommodate food trucks to attract more people.
Resident Emily Persons, who is also a Pleasantville Board of Education trustee, said comfortable seating would bring more residents to the area.
“There’s no place to sit right now,” Persons said. “There’s one bench in the hot sun and it’s very unpleasant.”
The next planning workshop about potential changes to Memorial Plaza will be on Thursday, Dec. 7 at the Clinton Street Senior Center at 7 p.m.