MODESTO -- A group commissioned by the City Council to improve and promote downtown Modesto implemented one idea Saturday.
Large potted plants and trees were moved into the street at Tenth and J streets, narrowing driving space but extending the sidewalk to create the beginnings of a parklet a small urban park.
City planner Josh Bridegroom is overseeing the fledgling "downtown hospitality program."
It is made up of about 35 volunteers from the city, Downtown Improvement District, Modesto Chamber of Commerce and Modesto Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Bridegroom said the group is analyzing several areas to create a "downtown management program."
This includes creating a campaign to promote downtown Modesto so it is more attractive to potential business owners and visitors.
Bridegroom said volunteers are brainstorming ideas for a downtown slogan that can be used in advertising and on billboards.
The group also is looking at downtown operations such as traffic flow, safety and maintenance.
Bridegroom said he hopes to "stir the social conscience and demonstrate through creativity and community we can do great things."
He has been studying downtown models from other cities including San Francisco, Livermore, Lodi and Sacramento.
San Francisco was the first city to create parklets in an effort to convert pavement to green space. Most parklets require the removal of parking spots but the parklets on the southeast and southwest corners of Tenth and J streets utilize curb space that had been red striped.
On Saturday, volunteers hung solar lights from the potted eucalyptus trees and stenciled brick markings onto the asphalt.
He said the narrower lanes will slow traffic, making the area safer for pedestrians.
The City Council will review the project this week, and if it is well-received could authorize funding to enhance the parklet.
Bridegroom paid for the work done Saturday out of his pocket.
"I am doing what I can to help the downtown community thrive," he said. "I was raised here and I want to make it better. I want the community to come downtown on Monday and be shocked by the streetscape."
Bee photographer Tracy Barbutes contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2366.