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Prairie boulevards among suggestions for Huron

Posted: Wednesday, Apr 24th, 2013

HURON — Landscape architecture students at South Dakota State University are recommending that the city of Huron create more appealing walkways along Dakota Avenue with prairie boulevards, offer cultural understanding with a new center and place an emphasis on biking with specific on-road lanes.

Nine students presented their ideas at the Monday luncheon of the Huron Sertoma Club, four months after starting the project with an on-site visit.

They inventoried all of the green spaces the city offers with its parks, school playgrounds and special use areas like the state fairgrounds, and evaluated neighborhood sidewalks in terms of their appeal and safety.

The overall goal is to suggest ways the city can create a more attractive environment for residents and visitors.

Student recommendations are included in a report that is available at City Hall.

They said the main crosstown thoroughfare, Dakota Avenue, has a lack of plant life and an abundance of concrete. In some places there are no sidewalks, and those on foot must walk through parking lots.

The students are proposing prairie boulevards of plant life grown between the sidewalk and the avenue, using native flowers and buffalo grass. Benches and trash receptacles could also be added.

Huron is a prairie town and creating such an atmosphere along the city’s busiest street would preserve that heritage, they said.

Establishing a cultural center would provide an opportunity for cultural learning and understanding.

It could be a place for classes for cultural integration and allow the Karen people to have a memorial for friends and family members left behind.

The students suggested acquisition of a large vacant building adjacent to the railroad tracks on Dakota Avenue, or upper level space in a downtown building.

Funding sources could be donations, a public-private partnership, a small temporary sales tax or grants from the National Trust Preservation fund.

But the students conceded that funding would be a major challenge and that the community needs to come together if it wants to move forward on their ideas.

For the city parks, they recommended sustainable landscaping for Riverside Park because of its presence in the flood plain. They suggested some kind of green buffer between Winter and Campbell parks, and have sustainable landscaping in the downtown area. The city should consider establishing new parks in the newly developing areas, such as near Wal-Mart and near Ravine Lake in northeast Huron.

They define active transportation as any mode of travel other than motorized vehicles. Huron already has five miles of trails and they recommended that effort continue with multi-use trails and bike lanes.

Having specific on-road bike lanes in the downtown area would mean the elimination of parallel parking, and that would be a hard sell for business owners, they agreed.

For the complete article see the 04-23-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 04-23-2013 paper.

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