Archive for Thursday, December 14, 2006

Council OKs downtown revitalization plan

December 14, 2006

Eudora's downtown revitalization process continued Monday as the city council viewed a potential design for a downtown district and supported an incremental tax rebate program.

The plans call for benches, multi-colored cobblestones and decorative lights with a German flair for the district spanning from Seventh to Ninth streets on Main Street.

Councilmen Bill Whitten and Jeff Peterson peruse a preliminary
design for Eudora's new look in the downtown area.

Councilmen Bill Whitten and Jeff Peterson peruse a preliminary design for Eudora's new look in the downtown area.

Brian Kingsley of BG Consultants presented the preliminary design to the council after a downtown revitalization committee hammered out the details.

Kingsley stressed the design was just a preliminary concept.

"A lot of times people see these drawings and they think something has been done and that's just not the case," Kingsley said.

Kingsley wanted to give the public and property owners an opportunity to comment on the design before it goes to the Kansas Department of Transportation for inspection, he said.

In May, KDOT officials chose Eudora as one of 18 cities eligible for a transportation enhancement grant. The grant will cover 80 percent of the eventual improvements valued at $813,715.

The city would still need to complete a three-step process with KDOT before putting the project out for bid.

The new design showcases the German elements mixed with bike racks, new trash cans and greenery.

"They are going to be native wildflowers ---- an easy maintenance type theme where they are going to have some low-lying landscapes so that we're not impeding visions for cars at intersections and so forth," Kingsley said.

After hearing Kingsley's presentation, the council voted to schedule a Jan. 2 public meeting to view the design.

City Administrator Cheryl Beatty next presented the council with a plan to make property owners take greater interest in their property surrounding the downtown area. She presented a document, which would create a downtown revitalization district.

"This is one of the very few gateways we have in Kansas to help improve an area ---- an existing area ---- for revitalization," Beatty said. "I have been working with the county because they have never done one."

Because the incentive will be a tax rebate, the city needs the support of both the school district and the county on the project.

The revitalization district encompasses the area chosen for the KDOT grant and expands it one block east and west to Maple and Elm streets, respectively.

"When people are driving downtown they are usually not just on the main

street, they turn around one one block and you want it to be revitalized on the whole," Beatty said.

The program would be open to anyone who would want to add value to their property within the district.

"Even residential property owners can benefit from this tax rebate program," Beatty said.

The minimum investment to take part is $5,000. The tax rebate would be spread over a 10-year period.

According to the plan, the rebate application window will run from Jan. 1, 2007 to Dec. 31, 2010.

"I think this is the thing we ought to be doing," Councilman Jeff Peterson said.

The council voted unanimously in favor of the downtown revitalization plan.

Beatty will present the plan to the school district at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Eudora Middle School library. She said she would present it to the county in January.

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