Regardless of where you stand on the possible extension of Depot Plaza – one thing is clear – Mill Valley residents, businesses, employees and Mill Valley-adjacents have… thoughts, as City officials received more than 1,800 individual responses to the survey. That’s more responses than the city has received on any issue in recent memory, according to officials.
The City of Mill Valley is in the midst of the latest phase of its Downtown Project, a multi-year infrastructure project that seeks to improve the overall flow and safety of cars, bikes and pedestrian travel in the downtown area. In February 2020, the City Council signed off on a $2 million overhaul of downtown sewers, sidewalks, storm drains and streets, all with a focus on minimizing the impact on downtown businesses, particularly on parking and access.
Phase 2 in 2021 largely focused on ADA access and safety improvements, primarily in the form of 17 new curb ramps and “bulb outs” that sought to narrow the road and shorten the distance pedestrians have to cover to cross the street. Those bulb-outs were installed on East Blithedale Ave., Sunnyside, Throckmorton Ave. and Corte Madera Avenue, the latter of which resulted in an outdoor seating area in front of Mill Valley Market due to the project requirement for a particularly large bulb-out.
The city is eyeing the spring of 2023 for the next phase, with a primary focus on paving and curb ramp improvements along Throckmorton Avenue and Miller Avenue. That is likely to also include an expansion of the sidewalk along the block of Miller between Sunnyside and Throckmorton avenues, potentially freeing up additional sidewalk dining and additional sidewalk real estate for merchants.
There are likely no shortage of good ideas for the additional plaza space freed up by the removal of the “wiggle” at Sunnyside and Miller avenues.
City officials previously allowed the the Mill Valley Historical Society to temporarily place within that space a full-size model of the historic Engine No. 9, a 100-year-old steam engine that is the only surviving piece of the once world-famous Mt. Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railway. Others have suggested the space be deployed for more outdoor gathering space, such as artistic bicycle racks, a fountain or water feature; a giant Chess board; landscaping; outdoor art; picnic tables or other seating; a small play structure; or a small stage for events.
At a Parks & Recreation Commission hearing on Nov. 2, commissioners and community members will have their say on the best way forward.