Square Beautification

The Downtown Square

The downtown square remains a central place of pride and community identify for residents, but there is a need to make improvements. The recent dissolution of the gardening club leaves the flower beds and other plantings without a dedicated volunteer organization responsible for ongoing maintenance. The city has stepped in to take over general maintenance of the park space, but their time and resources are limited compared to the volunteers of the garden club. This challenge presents the opportunity to rethink how this park space is utilized.

Small Changes

Plantings

Small changes can be applied that can have big results. For example, changing some of the heavily manicured flower beds to a variety of low-maintenance, native prairie plantings and wildflowers would provide a similar aesthetically pleasing presence with less work on behalf of the city or volunteer groups. These planting can be applied through the square in the park, at the corners, and along the sidewalks in the right-of-way space. These perennial plants will grow back year to year and provide the added benefit of providing weed and erosion control while improving storm water infiltration.

Crosswalks

Further activation of the square focuses on enhanced crosswalks. There are currently no crosswalk markings at any of the downtown intersections. The simple application of white crosswalk stripes would better indicate this area a pedestrian friendly and increase motorists’ awareness of pedestrian safety. An additional step would be to install crosswalk murals to further establish the area as a walkable district.

Pleasantville Downtown Rendering

Permanent Beautification

Permanent Changes

Permanent beautifications solutions like curb bumpouts, stamped concrete crosswalks, and street tree planter wells would require a level of political and financial support currently unavailable. However, an incremental approach could be applied to build awareness around these desired improvements. Demonstration projects like the ones proposed above could be done with a few thousand dollars in supplies and a group of volunteers over a weekend through a process called “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper” or LQC.

pleasantville-downtown development

Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper

What is LQC?

Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper is a Placemaking strategy made popular by the non-profit group Project for Public Spaces. LQC empowers communities to create great places with the help of volunteers. Short-term improvements like planting flowers and temporarily painting crosswalks are part of a larger and more permanent vision for a place like the square. By making these improvements quickly and inexpensively, LQC is a way to avoid common roadblocks like planning fatigue, bureaucratic approvals, and prolonged fundraising efforts. Its incremental and grassroots approach also provides an avenue for collaboration and community building, and it can help stakeholders at all levels to establish lasting partnerships.

For more information on Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper, go to https://www.pps.org/article/lqc-faq.

The Action Steps

ACTION

Apply a Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper process to make short-term improvements to the downtown area including the park in the square.

WHO

Chamber of Commerce, Community Betterment, civic clubs, Straw Hat Farms, local artists, student groups like FFA

HOW

Use the renderings as a starting point to identify the location of native plantings and other low-maintenance perennial plants. Paint temporary crosswalks– both white stripes and mural crosswalks. See Asphalt Art Initiative for inspiration and best practices. For more information on native plantings, see the IDTO Plant Profiler for a list of plants and their contribution to the environment.

WHEN

April 2020

FUNDS

Pleasantville Chamber of Commerce and other partners

Keep Iowa Beautiful – Diamond Vogel Grant

Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs – Arts Build Communities Grant

ACTION

Assess the success of the LQC installations to determine more permanent solutions.

WHO

City Council, city staff, Chamber of Commerce, Community Betterment, civic clubs, Straw Hat Farms, local artists, student groups like FFA

HOW

Convene all partners long with the City Council and staff to discuss the pros and cons of the LQC installation. The need for a complete master planning effort may be warranted as a result of this process to better define the layout of the entire downtown area and make long-term infrastructure improvements, where necessary.

WHEN

July 2020

ACTION

Apply for the Iowa Living Roadways program to formalize redesign of the square and the pedestrian network throughout the community (i.e. sidewalks, trails).

WHO

City Council, city staff, Chamber of Commerce, Community Betterment, civic clubs, Straw Hat Farms, local artists, student groups like FFA

HOW

Use the application checklist to apply for the program (linked HERE). Having completed the placemaking process and implementing the LQC project will help demonstrate the community’s support for further improvements to the square and for the community at-large. There will also be a need to request funds from the City Council to meet the local match requirement of $2,000.

Note, this action should take place simultaneously with Action #2.

WHEN

July 2020; application is due September 1, 2020.

FUNDS

$2,000

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