Back on track
Downtown beautification project resurrected
Unfulfilled proposals to spiff up downtown Eudora could have new life again now that the city of Eudora and Douglas County are working together to improve Main Street from 10th Street to the railroad tracks on the north side of town.
It would seem reasonable to combine roadwork efforts with those to add amenities like brick sidewalks and decorative street lamps downtown, City Administrator Mike Yanez told the Eudora City Council at Monday's meeting.
Not only would the city avoid two separate construction projects, he said, but Eudora could also come up with a financing option to pay for both the downtown improvements and the city's share of Main Street work. That would mean looking at every option, from the city paying for the project as a whole to a benefit district.
City leaders seemed to agree pursuing the projects simultaneously was the way to go.
"If this downtown beautification project is going to take off, the city's going to have to jumpstart it," said Council member Scott Hopson.
Hopson said getting amenities like brick sidewalks and street lamps could get people interested in downtown again and create the momentum for future improvement in the town's center.
Fellow Council member Don Durkin asked what had become of the federally-funded, state-distributed community development block grants Yanez led the city in pursuing last year.
The city administrator said some of the requirements weren't suited to the current economic environment. For instance, the grants required 100 percent participation from downtown businesses.
"It appeared 100 percent was not going to work," Yanez said.
Moreover, Yanez said the grants required a matching amount from the private sector. If the city contributed $100,000 toward public improvements like sidewalks, individual businesses would have to put in a combined $100,000 to improve their properties. In discussions between city leaders and business owners last year, proprietors expressed reluctance to commit to such high-cost improvements.
Although Yanez said the Church Street/Kansas Highway 10 interchange should be illuminated in the next couple of years, Mayor Ron Conner said getting traffic off K-10 and into downtown would be the real challenge.
"If you're going to do a downtown improvement project, you want to get people there," he said.
An idea Conner said he'd suggested to the Eudora Chamber of Commerce was to erect large, landmark "Welcome to Eudora" signs along K-10 on the east and west sides of town.
Conner said the Kansas Department of Transportation would give the OK to such city-financed signs. In the past, K-10 signage discussions had been mostly limited to the prospect of signage for individual businesses.
Earlier at Monday's meeting, the Council approved an ordinance that would allow the Chamber to put up its rotating business signs at Eudora's entrance points in the cardinal directions. The city crafted an ordinance that made an exception for off-site business signage that was in the community interest and didn't promote just one business or product.
The Chamber has financing to erect signs near Laws Field and on east 10th Street, both of them next to the city's welcome signs, with plans to add signs on West 10th Street and north Main Street, as money allows.
Participating businesses will have their name, address and phone number listed on the business directory sign touting Eudora's commercial endeavors. The Chamber's intent is to rotate individual businesses' plates among the signs to allow each business publicity at the different entrance points.
For more information about the signage project, see this week's print issue of The Eudora News.