Downtown Visioning Study Update

Do you enjoy the energy of downtown Lebanon on a sunny Thursday evening in the summer when the Farmer’s Market is alive with people shopping, eating, dancing, or just meeting each other? Do you appreciate the sight of hundreds of people enjoying a post-race meal and celebration after the Shamrock Shuffle or Skip’s Run? Do you wish that vitality could be felt during the rest of the week or the rest of the year? 

It seems that a lot of people do! 

The City’s 2030 Master Plan devotes an entire chapter to downtown Lebanon. The overall theme of the Lebanon Central Business District chapter (Chapter 3) is to achieve just that kind of energy and liveliness all year round. The Vision & Purpose statement for the chapter states that: 

“Downtown Lebanon shall continue to be a vibrant part of the community - a crossroads where residents and visitors work, meet, shop, learn, participate in local governance, and share in a good quality of life and a firm sense of community and belonging. The City of Lebanon seeks to promote and enhance downtown Lebanon as a vital business, social and recreational center of the community while preserving its historic ‘small-town’ atmosphere.”

To advance this vision of downtown and to help implement the overall Master Plan, the City is undertaking a comprehensive look at how downtown Lebanon looks, feels, and functions. Lebanon has initiated a Downtown Visioning Study and Tunnel Project that will focus on the area highlighted in the map below, generally including the areas around Colburn Park, and along parts of Hanover Street, Bank Street, and Spencer Street.  

As part of the project, the Visioning Study will review and evaluate a wide range of issues concerning the downtown area including: 
  • Desired mix of businesses/land uses 
  • Marketing / branding 
  • Functionality and efficiency 
  • Character and urban design 
  • Walkability and pedestrian environment 
  • Multi-modal transportation issues, including ped/bike/transit 
  • Wayfinding and gateways
  • Vehicular traffic flow 
  • Parking and parking management 
  • Downtown events and activities 
  • Public art / fountains 
  • Connectivity to river, greenway, surrounding neighborhoods 
  • Preservation of historic resources

The ongoing Downtown Visioning Study is intended to “identify and assess, through citizen engagement and professional analysis, the range of alternatives and feasibility for revisioning the downtown to enhance the physical appearance and functionality of the area.” The project will also evaluate the existing condition of the former railroad tunnel passing under the pedestrian mall and make recommendations for how best to use that area in the future.

Incorporating all of these topics, the Downtown Visioning Study is expected to touch on almost every specific strategy and action item contained within the Lebanon CBD chapter of the Master Plan. Successful completion of this Visioning Study will represent a significant step forward in the implementation of the City’s 2030 Master Plan.

To me, the most important component of this project is public participation. This project is not about “the City” simply informing “the Community” what will be done. Rather, this project will be most successful if the Community is consulted and involved about what it feels ought to be done and is empowered to help find or create solutions to improve downtown Lebanon.