Plaza scoped with generous use of butcher paper, marking pens and dots

The scene at the Plaza study session. KLH | Union

Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union

ARCATA – Ideas and colored dots were abundant at the D Street Neighborhood Center last week as the City Council held a multimedia study session on Plaza conditions and ways to improve them.

The event resembled a Chamber of Commerce mixer at times, with lots of civic leaders on hand, including elected leaders, city staff, business leaders, community activists and regular citizens interacting in many knots of conversation about the hall. There was even a food table.

Professional facilitator Heather Equinoss directed attendees to the multiple “buckets” of ideas posted around the room. These had been gathered at previous town hall and other meetings, and covered multiple categories of interest: economic development, retail cannabis – where it should be and how it should look, alcohol sales and restrictions, crime and public safety, the McKinley statue and Jacoby’s Storehouse plaque, beautification, activities, the “Living Plaza” concept, parking, cultural shifts, even a draft “Community Code of Conduct” at the CommUnity Pride & Peace table.

Attendees were asked to indicate their preferences and priorities with use of red sticky dots indicating disapproval, and green ones to signal approval.

Equinoss urged those offering suggestions to make them actionable, and include practical implementation steps. “Please, aim towards the concrete,” she asked.

If the results of the unscientific dot-poll on McKinley options were binding, the statue would be on its way out. Red dots of disaproval dominated options to keep it, to keep it and add an interpretive display, to move but keep it on the Plaza and to move it and keep it in Arcata. Suggestions to move it out of Arcata, and to McKinleyville, were verdant with green go-dots.

City Manager Karen Diemer said she was compiling the results over the weekend for presentation to the City Council at its monthly meeting, Wednesday, Jan. 17.


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