Sunday, July 13, 2014

OUR OPINION: IS THIS A GOOD IDEA? Close Northampton for pedestrian mall

October 24. 2013 6:32PM

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Would it be a good idea to …

… change downtown Wilkes-Barre’s dynamic ever so slightly by putting a pedestrian mall on the portion of Northampton Street directly in front of the movie theater complex?

Bar vehicle traffic from the section between South Washington and South Main streets, converting the space to a mini-park. Create a vibe conducive to milling about before or after a flick. Add a few benches and bike racks. Plant an attractive mix of trees and shrubs. Accent the place with one or two sizable pieces of art.

We didn’t pose this fanciful notion to city planners or traffic engineers for their take; no official source has even proposed it. We simply want your thoughts.

By establishing a safer hub for foot traffic, the area might become even more inviting to restaurants and retailers that so far have hesitated to locate in the neighborhood. Occupants of nearby loft apartments might appreciate the ambiance, and possibly see a benefit in property values.

Nearly a decade ago King’s College established a courtyard on what once had been a piece of North Franklin Street. Today, passersby would be hard pressed to envision the serene spot any other way.

Is a Northampton Street pedestrian mall an impractical suggestion? A brilliant one? So abysmally bad you can hardly believe it?

Give us your feedback by sending a letter the editor or posting comments to this editorial at or Likewise, share with us your ideas for improving the community and making area residents’ lives better. Maybe we’ll spotlight your suggestion in a future editorial and ask readers, “Would it be a good idea to …”

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