Archive for Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Downtown beautification project receives state funds

May 9, 2006

It's revitalization time.

The Kansas Department of Transportation announced its intention to fund a downtown beautification proposal made by city officials and local businesses last fall.

A similar grant proposal failed last year because of a lack of local business support.

"It's cool," city administrator Cheryl Beatty said of the award announced Monday. "The project is fully funded ---- not just part of the project. So we're excited."

The project ---- which will transform the area from Seventh to Ninth streetsÂÂ ÂÂ---- was one of 18 to get a big push into reality from the state as part of its transportation enhancement grants.

The grant will provide federal funds for the 2008 fiscal year based on the estimated cost of the $813,715 project.

The total reimbursement would cover 80 percent of the final project, excluding construction administration and design costs.

According to a letter sent by KDOT's Chief of the Bureau of Program and Project Management Rosemary Ingram informing the city of the grant's approval, the city would be responsible for the rest of the support.

"The city will be responsible for the remaining construction and construction engineering costs, along with all the preliminary engineering, right-of-way and utility costs," Ingram said.

The project will help add new decorative lighting fixtures, brick walkways and other aesthetic improvements, Beatty said.

"We're partnering with both the county and the state on this," Beatty said.

In addition to the sidewalk repair and lighting, the grant will also add more touches of greenery.

If all goes as planned, this grant would just be the beginning of a more extensive revitalization process.

"We are also going to work with business owners and form a neighborhood revitalization district so they can invest monies on rehabilitating their buildings through a tax deferral program," Beatty said.

When a citizen committee initially formed to discuss downtown revitalization, the first thought was to have the proposal cover a four-block radius.

When a representative came to review the application with the committee it was thought the city might want to phase out the project further.

With the current award that might not be the case, but the ultimate timeline for the downtown to be finished by the 2007 sesquicentennial might be in jeopardy.

"We do not have to split the project, which is good news," Beatty said. "But we may not be able to have it done by Eudora's 150th anniversary celebration."

After further discussion the revitalization's scope contracted for the project, but Beatty said there's still high hopes the final product would cover more ground.

"The Eudora statue project is also one of the things we had hoped we can combine and mold into all of this," Beatty said. "So, it's a larger part of the whole downtown renovation project."

Since the citizen committee first met last September, an overall goal of the project was to make Eudora's downtown more noticeable.

"Hopefully in the future with future funding we can define entryways and find new signage," Beatty said. "That's not included in this grant, but those are all part of the long term goals."

Prior to sending in the full application last November, the Eudora City Council agreed to earmark $293,000 for the project.

The next step will send Beatty to Topeka on May 22 to learn the requirements of the grant.

Because state funds can't be spent on the design aspect of the project, the search for a designer could start right away.

"Our downtown revitalization committee will work with the final selection of the designer," Beatty said.

The downtown committee will help select the final design, which would then be put out to bid.

"We'll get plenty of input from the public as well," Beatty said.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.