16th Street to be ‘Orange-ified’

Published 6:33 pm Saturday, December 1, 2018

By Krista Salter

The Orange Leader


During a public hearing Tuesday evening, beautification, unification, and space, trash and safety issues were main points raised by 16th Street business owners in Orange when it comes to making the area cleaner, safer and more inviting.

Mayor Larry Spears Jr. said improving 16th Street would lure more businesses and residents to the city, as the road is the main thoroughfare into Orange from Interstate 10.

“I am ready and willing to do everything,” Spears said. “But, it’s going to cost money. As business owners, if you say ‘This is what we want,’ then we can try to make it happen. It just depends on if the people want to spend the money.”

Business owners and community members generally agreed that an approach like adding a unified “old city charm” to the road would encourage business owners, residents, and visitors to take in 16th Street as an “experience.”

Speakers mentioned other Southeast Texas roads – like Calder in Beaumont and Boston Avenue in Nederland – that have matching benches and light poles, uniform sidewalks with curb appeal and small businesses that work together to create open house nights.

The prospect of adding a theme to the street and possibly the rest of Orange was repeatedly brought up by participants who shared ideas like planting orange trees down 16th Street and other roads, putting giant oranges at each intersection and outside businesses, painting area trash cans orange and even painting the city’s fire trucks orange.

“We need something that denotes you’re entering Orange,” one participant at the public meeting said, adding that adding a banner to the highway or something to catch travelers’ eyes would get them to exit in Orange. “We can do a lot to dress Orange up right there; it’d be a gateway type entry that would let people know they’re entering somewhere special.”

Participants agreed adding a sidewalk to 16th Street would enable more people to walk up and down the street, allowing them to visit more businesses and take in the street as a whole experience, beginning at the Shangri La Gardens.

“If we make it walking-friendly, then people will walk it,” said councilmember Terrie Salter.

Mayor Spears and other participants spoke about potentially tearing down old residences on the street in the future to make space for more small businesses that reportedly already have a difficult time finding space for their storefronts in Orange.

Spears, city council members and participants discussed the trash issue on 16th Street, saying that all businesses need to participate in keeping their trash at bay but that the city can do more to encourage a clean area by beautifying the area and adding more trash cans.

Spears said the council has been considering code enforcement and writing citations to businesses on 16th Street who don’t clean up their trash, but that before they issuing fines, they want everyone to make a consolidated effort to keep the area clean.