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Parking will be lost as result of downtown Watertown street improvements

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Downtown parking vs. pedestrian safety.

That’s the backdrop of some changes occurring in front of the Key Bank building on Washington Street.

A construction crew is building two large square structures in front of the building this week.

But what are they? And how does it fit into the city’s $3.9 million streetscape project near the Gov. Roswell P. Flower Monument?

The two structures will be 10-foot by 10-foot concrete planters that are part of the city’s efforts to improve pedestrian safety around the monument.

As a result, three parking spaces will be lost in front of the bank, but a handicapped spot will remain.

As part of the streetscape project, the idea is to slow down traffic at that spot by narrowing Washington Street and widening the sidewalk there, said city planner Geoffrey T. Urda, who is overseeing the streetscape project for the city planning department.

He pointed out that four parking spots will continue to be available in front of the Community Bank building next door and “the plethora” of other parking in two nearby parking lots.

The city is adding landscaping where it’s possible throughout the streetscape project, which includes street and other improvements along sections of Court, Franklin and Coffeen streets.

For years, there’s been a perceived parking problem downtown. Business owners have complained about a lack of parking for their customers.

“It’s balancing parking with pedestrian safety and a better downtown for people wanting to spend time in it,” Mr. Urda said.

City officials also hope they will no longer have to worry about vehicles slamming into the historic monument anymore. Larger barriers will be installed around the monument to protect it from vehicles hitting it.

The work includes installing 13 crash-rated bollards around the monument to prevent the type of incidents that have occurred several times over the years.

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