Archive for Thursday, January 4, 2007

Public weighs in on design

January 4, 2007

City Engineering consultant Brian Kingsley of BG Consultants can define with one word what separates a smooth downtown revitalization from a choppy one ---- communication.

He and Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty opened the channels of communication Tuesday by presenting a preliminary downtown beautification design to the public.

The aim of the meeting was to get a general consensus of the design and to hear concerns from the downtown business owners, Beatty said.

"The project is moving forward, but we need your ideas on how to better move it forward," Beatty said.

In May, Eudora won a transportation enhancement grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation. The grant will reimburse the city 80 percent of the $968,837 project. The project's first phase will stretch down Main Street from Seventh to Ninth streets.

Kingsley led the citizens through the highlights of the project.

The overall design features items to give the new downtown a German look, Kingsley said.

"One thing I like to stress is uniqueness," Kingsley said.

A revitalization committee chose the details like new light fixtures, park benches and cobblestones to serve as a tribute to Eudora's early German settlers, he said.

"The streetscape is going to look really nice when we get it all done," Kingsley said.

After hearing the presentation, Bill DeArmond, whose wife is part owner of Quilting Bits and Pieces on Eudora's Main Street shared his concern about the construction.

"My wife's business right now is so close to profit or no profit even a week of people not showing up because they know downtown is torn up could be detrimental as well as devastating," DeArmond said. "I think it could be great for the city, but it worries us to no end," he said.

Both Kingsley and Beatty assured the gathered business owners they would make sure the construction went as quickly as possible.

"They're going to be hustling," Beatty said. "Based on the experience I've had on downtown projects, the contractors want to be out of there faster than you want them out of there. These are very intense jobs," Beatty said.

Barbara Tuttle, one of the organizers of the EudoraFest committee, came prepared with several questions on how the project might affect the annual festival.

She asked about the availability of power and for details about the slope and consistency of the streets.

Both Beatty and Kingsley agreed to take the importance of EudoraFest into account as plans progress.

Kingsley fielded questions about the project's overall timeline.

With consensus gathered from the public, Kingsley said he could start the approval process with KDOT, which could take awhile.

The best case scenario would have the project finished by the town's sesquicentennial, Beatty said.

"We're on schedule to get this done when we want it done. As it sits with KDOT, I don't think they will be able to get done with the timetable we want to get it done in," Beatty said.

After the presentation, downtown business owner LaDonna Russell said she was impressed with the presentation.

"I think it will be a very nice downtown view," she said.

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