Archive for Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Public to be involved in downtown De Soto streetscape design

A ramp and steps give access to a porch-like entry to a downtown Baldwin business. Similar methods may be employed as part of the De Soto downtown streetscape design to deal with slopes.  Design will start next year  for the project.

A ramp and steps give access to a porch-like entry to a downtown Baldwin business. Similar methods may be employed as part of the De Soto downtown streetscape design to deal with slopes. Design will start next year for the project.

November 19, 2008

De Soto residents wanting insight into what downtown sidewalks could look like after a 2010 beautification project might want to visit Baldwin.

That city completed a downtown streetscape improvement project last summer. As in De Soto, sidewalks there have steep grades that present a challenge when designing for handicapped accessibility.

The architects of the Baldwin project solved the problem with the use of ramps and stairways rising to landings in front of storefronts.

“We’ll have some of those elements,” De Soto City Engineer Mike Brungardt said.

Earlier this month, the De Soto City Council awarded a $46,980 contract to RDG Planning and Design of Omaha, Neb., to design the planned $700,000 streetscape enhancements on 83rd Street from Peoria to Shawnee.

In 2007, the city council approved a revitalization plan for the old-town district that includes the two-block downtown. The creator of that plan was Marty Shukert of RDG.

Brungardt told the council when the contract was approved, the process proposed for developing the streetscape design would be much like the one Shukert used to create the revitalization plan. It would include both individual and group meetings with property and business owners in the downtown district, he said.

The schedule hasn’t been developed yet, but Brungardt said the individual meetings would probably start early next year.

Shukert’s revitalization plan included a preliminary design of the streetscape improvements that show so-called traffic calming bump outs at its key intersections and ad midway between Wea and Shawnee streets. However, Brungardt said no part of that plan was set in stone and public comment would shape the final design.

“The process will start with a door-to-door survey of every business on the street,” he said. “That will be followed by a workshop we’re calling the great streets tour.”

The great streets tour will present for those attending the workshop photographs of street improvements in other communities, Brungardt said.

Comments from the workshop and the individual meetings will be used to develop alternatives concept plans, the city engineer said. The task then will be to decide what elements of the concept plans work best and which ones the city can afford, he said.

The downtown streetscape is on the city’s five-year capital improvement plan and at one time was slated for this year. However, the economic slowdown left the city without the money to fund the project and it is now scheduled for 2010.

One piece of the project would be finished early, Brungardt said. The sidewalk on Wea Street west of the Bleu Tomato and Dollar General Store would be replaced early next year, he said.

The sidewalk has long been a safety concern but the city held off on replacing it because of the bigger downtown project was pending. With the big project more than a year from its start it was decided to move ahead with Wea sidewalk replacement, Brungardt said.

The projects cost wouldn’t be know until it was designed, but Brungardt said it should be less than $10,000.

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