Courthouse curb check raises eyebrows of downtown Amarillo

Big players in downtown Amarillo gathered Thursday for a Potter County Commissioners meeting, one that would affect the new face of the Potter County Courthouse Streetscape Design and in the beginning, not everyone was in agreement.

"We saw plans to stick curbs out in the middle of the street," said President of Amarillo National Bank, Richard Ware. "We were very concerned."

But other groups like Downtown Amarillo Inc. and Amarillo TIRZ Board support the new "bulbout" Streetscape Project.

"Six foot bulbouts that come out into the parking lane and what that does is it brings the pedestrians out equal with the parking so that they can see around it and be able to more safely cross the street," said Downtown Amarillo Inc. Executive Director, Melissa Dailey. "It reduces the crossing distance."

Current standards will force other businesses renovated in the future to adopt a similar "bulbout" design that's consistent with downtown design standards. But, because the courthouse renovation began before the standards were set -- it had the option of opting out.

Ware originally pushed for Potter County Commissioners to "opt out" of the new design because he felt it would limit vehicle traffic flow downtown.

"There will be two camps," Ware said, "the people that are totally worried about the pedestrians and we're worried about the 5,000 people that drive to and from work everyday in downtown."

For others, it was simply the first step to creating a consistent look and feel for downtown.

"This is going to be a wonderful model block for downtown to show what the design standards were meant to do," said Dailey.

"The overall design will be the same so that rather than chaos you've got what we hope is a good design that will do well for us for the next 30 years," added Richard Brown, President of the TIRZ Board.

B u t, by meeting time on Thursday, a decision had been reached: construction crews would move forward with the bulbout design.

"They're new to downtown and so when something is new people don't understand it and what they're supposed to achieve," Dailey added. "But I think people will see once they're in, they really do create a safe pedestrian environment."

After a little discussion and some reevaluation, all parties involved left the meeting satisfied.

"While we may disagree on some things," said Ware. "This is a great compromise and shows everybody in town can work together."