Hortonville begins downtown planning
Village receives grant for urban planners
By John Faucher
Business owners, residents and village officials met with two urban planners on Tuesday, Oct. 19, to discuss the future of Hortonville’s downtown.
The afternoon meeting followed an earlier walk through of the village by Amanda Arnold and Chris Silewski from Ayres and Associates.
Arnold and Silewski’s professional services were provided at no cost through a grant obtained by East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (ECWRPC).
The technical assistance grant is intended to help build stronger, thriving and sustainable communities by revitalizing community spaces and catalyzing economic development.
Hortonville is preparing for completion of the State Highway 15 bypass in 2023-24.
The bypass will run from Lily of the Valley Drive in Greenville to New London.
Village Administrator Nathan Treadwell said after the bypass is built, Outagamie County plans to reconstruct Main Street through Hortonville’s downtown in 2025-26.
After their walk through, Arnold and Silewski offered their observations, and some concepts to consider for the village as it plans the downtown’s future.
Those in attendance had an opportunity to share their hopes, concerns and priorities for downtown.
“I think the exercise was a huge benefit to the village,” Treadwell said.
“It gave us good insight on what business owners’ concerns were with the downtown and allowed us to bounce ideas off of experts in planning.”
Treadwell noted the village does not have a full-time zoning administrator and he said those types of duties are typically split up among three staff members who have differing levels of experience in the field.
“This was huge for the village,” said Treadwell.
The team of planners from Ayres will provide a formal report to the village board by the end of November.
Walk through downtown
In discussing downtown Hortonville’s general streetscape, Silewski said, “You’ve got some great buildings with awesome character downtown already.”
“But then on the back side like most communities, you’ve turned your back toward the waterways,” said Silewski.
He and Arnold prepared some initial concept designs after their walk through.
They noted Black Otter Creek flowing through downtown from the dam to Miller Park and referred to it as a “hidden gem.”
“In the design we figured out a way to bring the network of trails into the backside of those buildings and tried to reactivate that space a little bit to make it feel like a trail network where people want to be and reconnect with nature,” Silewski said.
They also looked at the cross section of streetscape and what space is currently available downtown.
The primary downtown cross section is approximately 60-62 feet wide, with the cross section widening slightly as you move east.
They proposed 11-1/2-foot drive lanes, eight foot parallel parking stalls downtown, a 7 foot-wide clear sidewalk and 3-1/2-foot amenity zone.
“The parallel parking stall is the most flexible space into the future. Taking that over in the future, whether it’s outdoor dining or bike parking, it’s something I think a lot of downtowns are going to see in the future,” said Silewski.
He said as you go down East Main Street the cross section widens a bit with a transition into more of a suburban streetscape.
Arnold said they also saw an opportunity for a pocket park downtown for when the village begins its design planning.
You can take two different approaches,” said Arnold.
“The first one would be a more natural approach, with a path through and some nice landscaping, or if you want to pursue pavement, making it more into an urban alleyway with lighting and other amenities,” said Arnold.
“The big thing is to look at programming with design. The last thing you want is to design a space for programming and then not have the programming,” she said.
The village also has opportunities for enhancing or including more wayfinding signage to help people better identify with Hortonville.
Attendees identified traffic among their top concerns
Most expressed a desire to slow traffic and make pedestrian travel downtown safer.
“A big focus there is prioritizing pedestrians over vehicles,” said Silewski.
Design options include bump outs at crosswalks, a slightly narrower roadway and four-way stops.
“So as you transition to more of a pedestrian streetscape you’re going to feel that scale come down and it’s going to feel way more comfortable for a pedestrian to be downtown,” said Silewski.
Treadwell said design discussions will continue after the village receives the report in November. He also said the village will be talking with the county about engineering and financing options for the project.