Franklin Street Streetscape Improvements
“The Village of Springville is a good example of how we are creating more livable communities by concentrating investments in areas where infrastructure already exists.”
– Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz
Village of Springville, New York
Erie County Community Development Block Grant
Erie County Smart Growth Grant
Construction Cost – $935,000
“If you’re going to do a job, you have to do it right. That street was constructed so it will last a long time.”
– Village Administrator, Timothy Horner
The Village of Springville is a charming community with an amazing history as a center of agriculture commerce that stretches back to the 1800s. Like many rural Villages across America, it has struggled to retain residents and increase its tax base. But Springville has been able to maintain many of its best attributes over the years and is now in an enviable place of improving upon its highly walkable, livable and attractive Village core rather than creating it from scratch. Through grants specifically targeted at community development and particularly “Smart Growth” the Village has been able to peel back expansive asphalt areas, open vistas adjacent to beautiful natural areas and to reimagine downtown sidestreets as civic gathering areas.
The Franklin Street Streetscape Project followed on the heels of the successful Main Street Façade Project, as well as several million dollars of investment through public and private organizations into Springville’s historic architecture. The Franklin Street project allowed that momentum to move past Main Street and actively connect one of the Village’s oldest and most beloved parks with Downtown and Spring Brook through pavement reduction, new sidewalks and crosswalks, added greenspace buffers and reconstructing the bridge over Spring Brook.
As part of JKLA’s 2014 annual “Mayor’s Breakfast”, what we now call our “Playful Planning” method was introduced to the audience in Springville, and was put into action as part of the community engagement process for the Streetscape project. An active ice breaker game was used to allow participants to introduce themselves and to articulate how they saw themselves contributing to the project’s success. Despite the rain, a group of more than 15 participants then embarked upon a walking tour and real-time visual preference survey. This walking tour of the downtown core allowed the participants to not only perform the Site Analysis needed for a successful project, but to have several hours of active conversations around ideas such as how civic spaces add to the economic development of a community, and what level of design amenity is really needed to have us feel safe sending our children to walk to the park by themselves. The group was able to watch the behavior of vehicular traffic speeding through excessively wide pavement areas with no buffers, but were also able to visualize how much those lanes could indeed be reduced.
A second workshop in October presented the concept design in real-time through another walking tour. Seeing the implications of property limits and utility infrastructure and discussing them in real time, at the real space, allowed for a conversation around overcoming those constraints. The final design included utility relocation to accommodate buffers and sidewalks where they had they most positive impact for the community.