Several of the landscape architectural firms hired by Falls Church to critique a $16 million proposal to redesign Broad Street have told the city that the proposal falls short of meeting the need for parking, public art and a plan for implementation.

In addition, several firms urged the city to find ways to better emphasize areas of historical interest.

"It's adequate, it's okay," said Joe Brown, senior vice president of EDAW Inc., one of the firms commissioned by the city to critique the proposal. "But Falls Church is such a wonderful, gardenesque village . . . it's a shame it can't be better."

Acting on a suggestion by the Potomac Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Falls Church City Council hired six firms in May at a cost of $1,000 each to prepare written critiques of the so-called "Streetscape Plan for West Broad Street."

The streetscape plan was submitted to the council last December by an eight-member citizens advisory group, which included a representative from the council and the city Planning Commission. The group was appointed by the council in 1985 to come up with ways to improve the appearance of the road and sidewalks along Broad Street from Haycock Road to Fairfax Street, a mile-long stretch of Leesburg Pike that the city and Virginia Department of Transportation have agreed to reconstruct together.

In addition to rebuilding the road, replacing the drainage system and placing utility wires underground, the streetscape plan calls for landscaping and the planting of trees and includes recommendations to widen sidewalks, rebuild them in brick, replace traffic lights, lay crosswalks across streets and install new street furniture.

Some of the items called for in the plan, such as "Washington Pole"-style streetlights, tree grates and "Pennsylvania Avenue litter receptacles," are currently found in the District.

Gary Knight, the council representative on the streetscape committee and head of the group, said members met over a 15-month period to draw up the proposal. He said the committee spent hours poring over books and catalogues in an attempt to pick out street items.

The group also visited areas such as Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Old Town to see what seemed to work in other jurisdictions.

The streetscape plan calls for the planting of more than 500 trees along Broad Street.

The proposal recommends three varieties: Willow Oak, Red Oak and London Plane. The plan also calls for 57 movable planters, 168 streetlights, 77 litter receptacles, 63 benches and eight bus shelters.

"The streetscape committee organized themselves to attack the most important elements of a streetscape plan," said W. Jackson Douglas, president of Douglas Associates, one of the six firms. "Their report, I think, is succinct and thorough."

"If Falls Church is going to be innovative enough to create this kind of downtown, they ought to be innovative enough to include public art," he added. " . . . I think in any downtown area there has to be fun and sizzle."

Joe Brown of EDAW Inc. also talked about the need for public art.

"They really didn't talk about art," he said. "They're missing the boat there . . . . It should be something appropriate to the community . . . . It should have a kind of originality drawn from the setting . . . . Local artists are very important."

In its report, EDAW Inc. raised another issue: "What about parking? This plan won't stand a chance of succeeding unless parking is addressed."

Knight said the streetscape committee was not asked by the City Council to address parking.

"That was not really our charge," he said.

City Planning Director Henry Bibber said that while the plan does not call for off-street parking along Broad Street, businesses along the strip offer parking and there are two small public parking lots near the city's major intersection of Broad and Washington streets.

Several of the firms cautioned the city to make more of an effort to create a "sense of place" in redoing its central corridor.

Landscape architectural firm HOH Associates Inc. said in its report to the city: "West Broad Street is becoming less 'special' as the community's center and becomes more like the anonymous commercial development along Leesburg Pike. Faced with similar problems, other communities have sought to reestablish their identities . . . . The most successful have taken stock of those things which make their communities distinct, such as local history."

The firm suggested use of pavement designs, sculpture, historical markers and special placement of trees as possible ways to highlight historic areas.

Ross Netherton, former chairman of the city's Historical Commission, said the city's downtown Broad Street has a lot of history to draw from.

"Leesburg Pike was a road that originated as one of the main Indian trails from the Potomac to the Blue Ridge, well before the county {Fairfax} was founded in 1742," he said.

Although it has been renovated and added to, The Falls Church, near the intersection of Broad and Washington streets, dates back to 1768, he said.

"I would agree the streetscape plan needs to take full advantage of what is there in the way of history," Netherton said, adding that the city has many other historic landmarks.

In their reports to the city, several of the firms also strongly urged city planners to draw up a carefully worked out schedule for construction, urging them to make every effort to minimize the potential harm that large-scale reconstruction could have on city businesses.

Firms also urged city planners to find creative ways to direct people to businesses while streets and sidewalks are being torn up.

Bibber said construction on Broad Street could begin in late 1988 and be complete within three years.

The city Planning Commission is scheduled to review the streetscape plan as well as the six critiques on July 20 in time to make a recommendation to the City Council in August.

Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Transportation has scheduled public hearings on the Broad Street reconstruction project for September.