Mary Avenue businesses might be required to disguise their dumpsters as part of a long-held goal of turning the downtown stretch into a destination of its own near the Brazos River.
The city of Waco’s Budget and Audit committee discussed plans Tuesday to develop a streetscape project and a special district to dictate how businesses along Mary Avenue handle their trash.
“The idea was that it was one of the most important connections to the river,” former city planning director Bill Falco said. “It really hasn’t become that, but this is about making it that, and given recent developments, the timing couldn’t be better than today.”
Public Works Director Chuck Dowdell said the solid waste collection district could include requirements to conceal trash cans and dumpsters in structures that do not attract attention, along with a cardboard and glass recycling program for downtown businesses.
“We wanted to integrate the trash into the building itself,” Dowdell said. “So, if it’s a new building, we’d like to have it inside of the building. We’d have to plan for that. It is some space, but it will be out of sight.”
Smaller storefronts that generate less trash would be able to use a separate pick-up program. Dowdell said enclosed, stationary compactors should be added wherever feasible. The waste district would run from Fifth Street to University Parks Drive and Jackson Avenue to Franklin Avenue.
“We want to avoid all of that so people can walk in this area,” Dowdell said.
Both projects are being led by a task force comprised of Falco, Dowdell, Interim Public Works Director Amy Burlarley-Hyland, Economic Development Executive Director Melett Harrison, Planning Services Director Clint Peters and City Center Waco Director Megan Henderson.
The streetscape project boundaries would straddle Mary Avenue from 12th Street to University Parks Drive, with a “target area” from Third Street to University Parks. Falco said the task force would develop an interim plan for developments that come in before an official streetscape plan is in place.
“We’ll get their input,” Falco said. “We’ve developed some criteria before we have the finished product.”
Traffic engineering manager Eric Gallt presented details on the streetscape project, which would include everything from street furniture and public art to gathering spaces and lighting.
“What we’re trying to do here is not have Mary be merely an access, but a destination, somewhere that when people come to Waco, they have to go to Mary Street,” Gallt said.
Gallt said additional parking is key to that goal, along with making sure infrastructure accommodates bikes, scooters and wheelchairs.
“This isn’t new,” Gallt said. “This isn’t something we’re starting on. It’s a vision we’re continuing to develop.”
The city would eventually enter a contract with CP&Y and Walker Partners to develop streetscape plans and a solid waste strategy.
City Center Waco would work to get stakeholders’ input, preliminary plans would be presented in November, and cost estimates would be presented to the city council in January.