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Boardwalk needs rethinking

Conley Weaver’s “Other Voices” article about the Nevada City Boardwalk hits the mark. Over a 40-year career as an urban designer, I have been involved in numerous urban street design projects that have included “sidewalk bulb-outs” such as the Boardwalk. Properly located, designed and maintained, such spaces can contribute greatly to the vitality and economy of a downtown business district. Sadly, that has not proven to be the case with our Boardwalk.

When it was planned, I was a great supporter of the project and contributed funds to its implementation. Today, however, I believe the space has not met expectations and suffers from the problems outlined by Mr. Weaver. Indeed, I, too, now avoid walking down that side of the street, despite the fact that I am a large man and am comfortable in most city places.

As community planners and decision makers, we must step back and evaluate the success of our projects. They don’t all work. While I am a great supporter of sidewalk bulb-outs and miniplazas in general, I think the Boardwalk is not currently beneficial to our downtown. Either it should be removed, or, more hopefully, successful design and management solutions found.



Michael Smiley

Nevada City


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