Archive for Thursday, October 6, 2005

Re-imagining downtown

Draft concepts important to inspire support for grant application

October 6, 2005

As citizens roamed the streets enjoying the sights and sounds of Saturday's EudoraFest, they could have been in for a treat-- a sneak peak at a possible future for downtown.

Representatives from Eudora City Hall and the downtown beautification committee had an information booth on the upcoming downtown revitalization proposal at the festival.

At the booth the group displayed a series of conceptual drawings designed to get people and businesses interested in the project.

City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said the group collected over 135 signatures for the project.

The drawings highlighted what could be done to improve the overall quality of the district.

B & G Consultants drafted the conceptual drawings for the city two years ago, which where released with minor tweaks during an official information night for local businesses last month, Beatty said.

"We don't want to spend a lot of time or money on engineering or drawing," Beatty said.

Frugality led to the reuse of some of the paperwork and ideas from an earlier attempt at a downtown revitalization grant.

In the early stages of the rejuvenated grant proposal, Beatty and committee members worked with the city planning commission to hammer out the final details of what the city wanted to present to the Kansas Department of TransportationAfter discussions with planning commission, a picture of what could be Eudora's new downtown began to form.

Larger signs will advertise exactly where downtown is and direct potential customers to it.

Conceptual drawings showed the streets reworked and the sidewalks refinished.

There would also be benches for people to rest on.

The project would be no small thing to Angie Miller, president of the Eudora Chamber of Commerce.

"I think it doesn't look that great now and by adding the things they wanted to add it is going to make it gorgeous and make people want to spend more time down there," Miller said.

The improved road and sidewalks will be set against new parking lines and decorative crosswalks in the proposal.

Although the conceptual drawings and the proposal focus heavily on the utilitarian aspects of an improved downtown, the pictures offered what could be purely aesthetic touches.

Antique-style lights would flank the streets filling the sides of Main Street and give the downtown corridor an almost Victorian air.

The planning committee also took an interest in adding greenery and plants downtown.

"I think right now preliminary drafts are very good. I think it's going to be beautiful and wonderful once it gets done," Miller said. "I think once we change the way downtown looks and we change the way the signs are, more people will be coming down there."

If the Kansas Department of Transportation accepts a grant proposal, Eudorans will have an opportunity to voice opinions on the shape of downtown.

In the meantime, the beautification committee is now working to get commitments from individual businesses, the lack of which hobbled the city's last attempt.

As they work to nail down commitments from businesses, committee members look forward to what might be.

"I think the highlight is going to be the lamps down there, and the benches, too, because there's no place to sit if you want to go downtown to look around," Miller said. "The benches and the lights are going to give it more of a homier feel."

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