Situated along the picturesque Niobara River, Valentine, NE functions as the retail, service, and industrial center for nearby ranches, farms, towns, and the Rosebud Reservation. Led by the Nebraska Department of Transportation, Valentine will complete a $6 million roadway and streetscape redesign over the next three years that will improve the public space from lot line to lot line along a seven-block stretch of State Highway 83. Challenges the workshop addressed were how to design main street to balance pedestrian activity and truck traffic, how Main Street could tie the City of Valentine more closely to the Rosebud Reservation community, how to solidify a process of engagement with the Nebraska DOT, and how to keep the public engaged over the 3 year design and construction process.
During the day, members of CIRD and the Resource Team, local professionals, NDOT, representatives from the City of Valentine synthesized the input from each community session and re-presented this material each evening in the form of renderings, conceptual roadway configurations, and comment notes from community members. Well-attended, highly interactive public events and design sessions were held each evening. In small group breakout working groups, community members commented and collaborated to uncover further possibilities as well as identify issues for further consideration. These were then fed back to the design team for further refinement, discussion, and development.
In order to begin to develop design visions for the community and DOT to respond to, architect and resource team member Jim Leggitt and landscape architect Kim Wilson created live sketches and plans throughout the workshop that highlighted what Main Street’s buildings, public spaces, rights of way, architecture and physical environment could look like in the future.
Because the reconstruction of Valentine’s Main Street is a state-led and state-funded process, a primary goal of the workshop was to establish a working relationship between the City of Valentine and the NDOT. As it turned out, the NDOT engineers were eager to work together with leadership in Valentine in order to ensure that the reconstruction plans respond to the needs of the community. DOT Representatives also expressed excitement about the opportunity to be creative and flexible in the design, planning, and construction of this project. Furthermore, NDOT officials acknowledged the immense value in having a community process in place locally. NDOT further noted that this process could become a model for state-led Main Street projects across the state.
Short term demonstration projects that illustrate “what could be” will take place in the spring of 2019, in order to test out ideas generated during the workshop and show the community what the changes could mean for Main Street. This will also introduce residents to new and unfamiliar ideas such as transportation and traffic calming tools.
Other steps include:
• Consolidate a baseline list of values and metrics to show whether those values are being met.
• Conduct a parking study – turnover, usage, and inventory - as soon as possible to determine how much parking is actually used and needed downtown.
• Adopt a Complete Streets policy to formalize its commitment to building streets for community development, safety, economic development, and equity.
• Create a Main Street business organization.
At the most recent Vision 2022 meeting, three areas were defined as areas to workshop: design with DOT, art and beatification, and retail and economic development. Kim Wilson and a group of Main Street members are working on these design ideas. Participation has been consistent at all our follow up meetings from the DOT. The DOT has provided a draft design plan and some information on lighting options for the street. Those plans, along with deciding on a date for a mock up, will be reviewed at the upcoming meeting.
In the upcoming meeting, Kim Wilson will be leading a sub-committee of the Main Street Vision 2022 in a design process to determine the type and placement of key streetscape components. See the diagram attached for the process, detailed description of steps, and timeframe. This session will end with the development of a mockup of the streetscape alternatives.
Though construction was postponed due to state highway delays and COVID-19, Valentine continued to generate energy and support for the project through partnerships with the University of Nebraska, economic development incentives and grants for business façade improvements, and the state’s first rural Bike Share program. The highway and sidewalk improvements have now been completed and have laid the groundwork for continued focus on pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers in Valentine.