Students propose idea for town square

By Gus Bode

Christy Poggas wants to see a new spin on Carbondale’s old town square.

Poggas, assistant professor of architecture, decided to have her architecture 351 students prepare and present proposals to the City Council for a new town square. The students worked with the parking lot between the intersections of West Main and North Washington streets, and West Jackson and North Washington streets.

Poggas said she liked the idea of having a main focal point for the city and thought the current layout lacks one.


Kevin Baity, assistant city manager for economic development, said while the students’ plans may not be used exactly as they are, it was nice to see designs from students that the city could use when developing a new comprehensive plan.

City Council members voted Tuesday to form two committees to develop a proposal. Committee members will redevelop and rewrite the last comprehensive plan, which was finished in 1997, Baity said.

The plan will include studies for housing, economic development, transportation and recreation. Baity said it would help with the growth and progress of the city.

“What we would like to do is incorporate these ideas into the redevelopment of the comprehensive plan, and that would suggest ideas as to what could possibly be done in the town square,” he said.

Students made the proposals Sept. 5 at Longbranch Coffeehouse for community members, city officials and business owners.

Elaine Ramseyer, general manager of Longbranch Coffeehouse, said she thought that the students making the proposal in the community was a great idea.

“I think that that extra link they made was really important,” she said.


She said she thought the poor economy made it necessary for everyone to pull together to help make the city as nice as possible.

“We’ve really got to come together as a community,” she said.

Students who developed the proposals said they wanted to incorporate the railroad track, which runs on the west side of the area with which they worked.

Nicholas Bruner, a junior from Pekin studying architectural studies, said he and his group members could not avoid incorporating the railroad tracks in their design.

“The railroad runs right next to the facility and so it’s kind of hard to eliminate that from your design when, if it drives by, you’re going to hear it anyway,” Bruner said.

Ramseyer said she heard questions about a lack of parking because the plans made by the students would eliminate the parking lot near the railroad tracks. But she said people should not worry about finding a place to park.

“There is so much parking around the square that no one would really miss those spaces,” she said. “To have that be a green space or a usable space rather than a parking lot is a brilliant idea.”

Christian Holt can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 268 or [email protected]