Arroyo Grande residents take action against Centennial Plaza plan

Concerns over a proposal to create a pedestrian plaza in the heart of Arroyo Grande’s historic Village have prompted some community members to take action.

Gordon and Manetta Bennett formed a committee called Save Short Street and distributed letters and postcards for Arroyo Grande residents to sign to show their support for keeping part of Short Street between East Branch Street and Olohan Alley open. Gordon Bennett turned in more than 200 letters to the city Monday. The issue goes before the City Council tonight.

In a separate effort, Arroyo Grande architect Gary L. Scherquist designed a plan that would keep Short Street open.

“My opinion is that it (closing Short Street) will isolate the parking lot so that guests in our city will be discouraged at the apparent lack of parking” and therefore won’t become pedestrians or shop in Arryo Grande, Scherquist wrote in a Feb. 5 letter to the council.

In the city’s proposal, part of Short Street would become a pedestrian square called Centennial Plaza. San Luis Obispo-based NKT Commercial would give the city the office building at Mason and Branch streets in exchange for the Conrad House, the 1950s-era city Building Department office known as the “malt shop” and the parking lot between the buildings.

That building at 200 East Branch St. would be demolished, and a 5,700-square-foot commercial building would be constructed in its place.

For city officials, Short Street is also key to the proposal.

“From a pedestrian standpoint, it’s creating a link between Branch Street and the other pedestrian features we have along the creek,” City Manager Steve Adams said. “The whole intent is to create more activity in the Village.”

Meeting tonight

The Arroyo Grande City Council meets today at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at 215 E. Branch St. For more information, visit www.arroyogrande.org or call 473-5400.

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