Archive for Thursday, May 13, 2004

Renewed discussion of business district makeover welcomed

May 13, 2004

Seven months ago, Eudora officials gave up on an attempt to secure a federally funded, state-distributed grant to spruce up downtown. At the time, it was said the city could always apply in future grant cycles once the prerequisite downtown business association was in place.
Apparently, that isn't going to happen. Fortunately, there is still hope the extensive makeover of downtown with brick sidewalks, antique street lamps and landscape islands can take place.
As City Administrator Mike Yanez explained to the City Council earlier this month, the grant required 100 percent participation of downtown businesses -- a tough threshold to reach, especially in times of economic uncertainty. It also required matching funds from individual businesses, another potential hardship.
Yanez suggested the beautification could go forward in conjunction with the joint city/Douglas County upgrade of Main Street from 10th Street to the railroad tracks. He suggested the city could either pay for the project or create a benefit district, among other solutions, to finance the improvements.
A combination of both sources would be appropriate. As it grows, Eudora needs to keep investing in its older sections that provide historical context and distinctive character. At the same time, downtown property owners should help pay for improvements that enhance their business district. A benefit district would reduce the financial consequences by spreading the cost of their investment over a longer period.
It is hoped the City Council follows through with the discussion with a project that increases the Eudora residents' pride in their downtown while impressing visitors.

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