The proposed makeover of Ariapita Avenue, Woodbroook, will include two multi-storey car parks, changes to Adam Smith Square and improved and accessible pavements.
On Monday night the Urban Development Corporation (Udecott) and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts held a virtual stakeholder consultation on the plans. It was broadcast live on TTT and Facebook.
More than 7,300 people viewed the presentation on Facebook alone.
Marlon Charles, senior architect at Udecott, described the Ariapita Avenue Enhancement Project as an upgrade of the streetscape for pedestrians. This is part of the overall Port of Spain revitalisation project. Port of Spain mayor Joel Martinez has previously touched on the plan, explaining it would mean closing the avenue to traffic during certain hours.
Charles said the avenue is one of the main commercial spaces in Woodbrook. It has businesses, entertainment spaces such as restaurants, bars, performance spaces, culture and arts activities, bustling nightlife and residential homes.
Phase one will upgrade the surface finishes of the existing sidewalks, putting a concrete finish over the pavements. Black olive trees spaced six feet apart will be planted, to “soften the urban hardscape.”
This upgrade will also address accessibility, comfort, safety and convenience with wheelchair accessibility.
Shuttle stops will be placed spaced every five blocks or 400 metres apart. There will be compartmentalised garbage bins for recycling every 60 metres.
There would be two eight-foot steel gateways decorated with "cultural characters" such a midnight robbers and moko jumbies placed at the beginning and end of the avenue. The gateway will have "Ariapita Avenue" in large gold letters in steel frames. At night the structure would be lit.
“This is to define the area as an entertainment zone. This gateway could easily be decorated for festivals and various events with the addition of banners and advertisements.”
In phase two, the temporary parking spots will be upgraded with multi-storey parking structures. One will be on the west end of the avenue near Bell-Smythe Street and the other at Colville Street. Udecott is currently assessing areas to facilitate the car parks.
The four-storey car parks will hold 800 cars and the ground floors will be commercial spaces.
To improve the security of the area, Adam Smith Square will have a police post holding two to four officers.
But, he said, “We envision that police officers would be patrolling the streets. However, at these posts they would be able to monitor the activities along the Ariapita Avenue.”
Six male and female public washrooms will also be added to improve public sanitation, and street lights will be added to some intersections in the park. Charles said both these structures will take up relatively small spaces and “complement the design of the park.”
Bright LED lights, which Charles said are vandal-resistant, will also be added to brighten up the park
Automated hydraulic bollards that could retract into the ground to close off the avenue for festival activities could be added in phase two. Other additions include: bike racks, solar-powered phone-charging stations close to popular liming spots to encourage social engagement, and wayfinding stations for people to locate businesses.
Charles said the private sector could sponsor these smaller items.
Other park accessories that could be added in phase two or later include: a feature art wall to display work by local artists, immersive signage for Adam Smith Square that could double as an attraction for tourists to take photos in front of and informative boards that have facts about TT culture. These can have changing digital scenes and provide opportunities for advertisement.
Charles said these plans were not final, but meant for public critique. Udecott will reise the plans with the feedback in mind, present again, and then request proposals from the contractors.
Amresh Singh suggested on Facebook that there should be serious consideration on constructing an artisan space.
“A recent upsurge of community spaces of things like Upmarkets (craft markets)and the Green Market have led to community togetherness.
"This space could also be shared with local entertainers and street buskers that could lead to youth in the area and environs turning away from crime and into local entertainment.”
One person asked about wheelchair accessibility, Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis said under Town and Country Planning rules, all plans must include disability accommodation.