State Street may go green again – and soon. The State Street Green, the temporary urban park set up downtown last summer, could return as early as next month, according to city officials.
Erica Ray, Los Altos public information coordinator, told the Town Crier that the city is in discussions with merchants along State Street between First and Second streets to bring back the green to their block for a three-week period starting in late May. A final decision is expected sometime this week, she said. If approved, the park would be open to the public May 27 through June 13.
“This is still all in the planning or idea phase,” Ray cautioned.
She said the discussions began after Safeway officials proposed closing the intersection at State and First streets for three weeks so that the company’s construction crew could build three new crosswalks – per its agreement with the city.
Ray said the original plans for ongoing construction on the new First Street Safeway store called for closures at the intersection while crews built each crosswalk a leg at a time “to allow for consistent traffic flow,” albeit with detour routes. While that approach would allow traffic in the area to flow in a limited fashion, she noted, the overall work on the crosswalks would take much longer – approximately seven weeks.
The company approached the city about closing the intersection entirely for a three-week period to complete all of the work with only one disruption, according to Ray.
“The faster they can get it done, the better from their perspective,” she said of Safeway’s proposal. “Either way, that intersection will be closed for a period of time.”
Safeway offered to pay for the installation and removal of the temporary turf needed to stage the park on State Street and to assist the city in marketing efforts to minimize the impact on nearby businesses. Ray added that Passerelle Investment Co. already agreed to loan its turf and furniture to the city for the pop-up park.
One thing that would likely differ from last summer, she said, is programming. If approved, Ray said the park would host few if any events such as music or child-friendly entertainment because city officials want to encourage park visitors to patronize nearby businesses.
“It’ll be more about alleviating the strain on businesses and, of course, providing a great public space like that the community enjoyed (last summer),” Ray said.
The Los Altos City Council earlier this year approved the return of the park – but in a different location. In March, the council voted to revive the park for four weeks on a small portion of Third Street after the annual Arts & Wine Festival in July. Ray said those plans are “still not off the table.”
One option at the time of approval was to extend the park from the perimeter of the city’s parking plazas to the corner of Main and Third streets – or conversely, at the edge of the plazas and the corner of State and Third streets, near the Costume Bank. A third placement option currently being discussed, Ray added, includes a small portion of Third Street between State Street and Edith Avenue.