Town of Paradise Valley looks to claim its own identity

An artists rendering of a proposed designed intersection, that could be implemented at the intersection of Tatum Boulevard and Lincoln Drive. (submitted photo)

The rest of the world may soon be catching a glimpse of the uniqueness and charm that Town of Paradise Valley residents have come to cherish, as local leaders seek to physically showcase its characteristics.

The Paradise Valley Planning Commission met during an Aug. 1 study session at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive, to get a first blush of proposed ideas that will unveil the local spirit.

The Planning Commission is a seven-member volunteer group appointed by town council. Unlike the bicycle and pedestrian master plan, which is also working its way through Town Hall, there is no statement of direction to guide the Commission in its planning.

Dubbed as the Visually Significant Corridors Master Plan, the effort is one of town council’s quality of life initiatives and has been included in the town’s 2012 General Plan.

Aiming to better define the character of the town and its neighborhoods, the visually-based plan may include a variety of elements including vehicle travel lanes, bike lanes, sidewalks, street furniture, utility poles, trees, accent plantings, lighting and signage.

The focus will be on the major arterials of Tatum Boulevard and Lincoln Drive, but the plan shall also address fundamental quality of life issues within a streetscape, such as safety, accessibility and town identity.

Ultimately, the town officials and staff say they want to differentiate themselves from neighboring cities Scottsdale and Phoenix.

“We want people to know you’ve arrived in Paradise Valley — we’re unique, we’re not Scottsdale, we’re not Phoenix — we really want a brand for our town,” said Community Development Director Eva Cutro, during the study session.

More than just adding additional shrubbery and pleasant-looking roadways, the draft master plan most notably recommends creating an experience for drivers at the intersection of Lincoln Drive and Tatum Boulevard. The proposal shows:

  • A paved pattern in the square intersection, such as the agave-sun pattern;
  • The creation of a “Pillars of the Community” themed open space garden recognizing distinguished community members;
  • A contemplation corner with a pillar and shade-structure for viewing Camelback Mountain;
  • Updated sidewalk.

The Planning Commission voiced support and offered alternative ideas for the painted intersection and proposed looks for Paradise Valley.

“Tell you what, you’d know you’re in Paradise Valley when you come through that intersection,” Planning Commission Chair Daran Wastchak noted during the study session.

Town Hall is at 6401 E. Lincoln Drive in Paradise Valley. (file photo)

At home in Paradise Valley

A request for proposal was sent out in July 2016, with Environmental Planning Group and Michael Baker International selected to help develop the plan, Ms. Cutro explained.

On Jan. 3, the Planning Commission conducted its initial brainstorming session, prior to community outreach meetings in February.

“We want to determine the town’s preferences for things such as street lights, benches, way-finding signage, landscaping and all other streetscape design elements,” Ms. Cutro said.

“While doing that, we want to make sure we don’t add clutter, we want to reduce environmental impacts, noise, excess signage, visibility to utility boxes and want to minimize neighborhood impact.”

The draft plan includes an introduction, guidelines summary, existing characteristics, implementation and a planning process.

“If you’ve had a chance to look at the draft, it’s very visually compelling — from a design standpoint, it’s a beautiful plan,” Ms. Cutro noted.

Anchored by Lincoln Drive and Tatum Boulevard — the town’s only streets that span the full west-east and north-south perimeters — the visually significant corridor aims to create a sense of place when crossing into the municipality.

Citing well-known and streetscapes such as Central Avenue in Phoenix and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., a streetscape carries an identity of its community and plays an important role for residents and guests, the proposal states.

“Creating a unique and place-appropriate streetscape is a process of recognizing the town’s natural environment and setting in the shadows of Camelback, Mummy and Phoenix mountains; town history; population density; and its social and cultural mix,” the plan states.

“Creating a local well-known streetscape is about combining those elements into an overall approach that compliments the existing neighborhoods and architecture, both building and community structure.”

Proposed ideas included themed elements, screen walls, larger monument signs, and a paved pattern at the intersection of Lincoln Drive and Tatum Boulevard. For visitors and residents alike, town staff has proposed the idea of “geo-tagging,” where different local landmarks can house unique items that people seek out.

“We also asked them to explore the use of what we are calling geo-tagging — I suggested lizards on Lincoln,” Ms. Cutro explained.

The idea was presented to Ms. Cutro at a conference a couple of years ago, and with the history embedded within the town — such as celebrities staying at Mountain Shadows — Ms. Cutro says she believes the town could offer some interesting factoids.

“Why don’t we see if we can get the resorts and the schools to put — maybe even pay for them — little lizards, and we hide them on the property and then people have maps with facts, they can walk around and find the lizards,” she explained.

“We just thought that might be a fun way to get people out and exploring.”

The Planning Commission is expected to revisit the Visually Significant Corridor Master Plan at its Sept. 5 meeting.

News Services Editor Melissa Rosequist can be reached by e-mail at mrosequist@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Mrosequist_

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