Archive for Thursday, August 28, 2003

Downtown grant put on hold

Community envisions other improvements

August 28, 2003

It looks like a downtown improvement project will have to wait another year, city leaders said at a Eudora City Council meeting earlier this month.
A lack of time and resources prevented downtown merchants from forming their own association, a key tenant in a state-distributed development grant, said City Administrator Mike Yanez. Because applications for the grant were due this fall, Yanez said the project would be put hold until next year, when the grant application cycle began again.
Downtown proprietor Thomas Smith, who runs Aspire Marketing and the newly-opened Madame Hatter's out of 702 Main St., volunteered his help in improving downtown as well as serving as a catalyst for pursuing improvements.
"I'd like to get the synergy going," he said. "I've had people saying the city of Eudora doesn't care about Main Street, but I don't think that's true."
For starters, Smith asked if the street itself could be cleaned, removing oil stains and other blemishes.
"So when people see Main Street they see a downtown that's ready to walk on its own two feet," Smith said.
Council member Tom Pyle said he hadn't noticed some of the less-desirable aspects of downtown until he recently brought an out-of-town guest to Eudora.
"You don't realize it until somebody calls it to your attention," he said.
On the city's end, Yanez said they could increase the street sweepers, but sweeping sidewalks, shoveling snow in winter, and other housekeeping issues would be up to the merchants and property owners themselves. City Council member Rex Burkhardt said local volunteer groups and organizations could pitch in on the effort, too.
When Council member Don Durkin said the city could consider using beautification money set aside in parks and recreation funds to spruce up downtown, the Council began discussing the idea of installing a so-called "pocket park" at a vacant lot on the east side of the 700 block of Main Street. The property's retaining wall os deteropratomg two years after being rebuilt. The project cost the city time and money, not to mention the efforts of high school art students who painted the wall.
"We've gone through this for years and years," Pyle said.
City Attorney Jerry Cooley said the city could begin by offering to buy the property, and if those efforts were unsuccessful, begin condemnation proceedings.

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