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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow CITY FINALIZES STREETSCAPE PLAN

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CITY FINALIZES STREETSCAPE PLAN

NEW LOOK FOR DOWNTOWN: A view of what Depot Street would look like under the streetscape plan. The plan has been on the drawing board for a couple of years and is about 85 percent complete. (Computerized design by Ferguson Engineering).
NEW LOOK FOR DOWNTOWN: A view of what Depot Street would look like under the streetscape plan. The plan has been on the drawing board for a couple of years and is about 85 percent complete. (Computerized design by Ferguson Engineering).

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Civil engineers have done 85 percent of the final plan for the downtown La Grande streetscape project. A city advisory commission has reviewed the plan.

The only thing needed to complete the $3.8 million project is money.

The plan developed over the past few years with input from a large committee of citizens, business and property owners depends on when the city gets grant money to do the work.

We got a grant of $50,000 from the Northeast Oregon Alliance and matched it with $20,000 in city funds to do the engineering plans, said La Grande Community Development Department Director Mike Hyde.

Hyde said he will apply this week for a 15-year, low-interest loan of $750,000 in state Community Incentive Funds.

If we get that grant, we could use it to leverage other funds, possibly Oregon Department of Transportation funds; or we may have to form a local improvement district, Hyde said. That would be funded by property owners.

The plans are nearly complete except for plugging in the results of a survey among city council, planning commission members, downtown property owners and business owners.

The survey dealt with three options of differing widths in parking and travel lanes.

The budget calls for $3.2 million for construction, $300,000 in a contingency fund and $320,000 for construction engineering, Hyde said.

The project includes measures to make the business district more pedestrian friendly, with wider sidewalks, curb extensions or bulb outs, additional trees and landscaping, benches and outdoor dining spaces. There will be new street lights, informational panels, bike racks and directional signs.

The engineering crew from Ferguson Engineering of Mount Vernon drew up the construction plans, Hyde said.

They worked with downtown business interests for six months, Hyde said.

Having the final engineering plans finished puts the city in an ideal position to receive grants to do the actual construction, Hyde said.

Previously, we applied for a Community Incentive Fund grant, but we werent ready to proceed with the construction of the project, so we were turned down.

This go-round, there will be $9 million in the spring and $10 million in the fall, and we are in a better position now to get a grant to do construction, Hyde said.

Hyde said one thing that was intriguing about the engineering work was the firms use of digital cameras.

They took some photos of how the streets look now and then built into them an image of what the finished streetscape will look like, he said.

In 1999, a committee of about 30 citizens came up with a preliminary concept for rehabilitation of the downtown area.

One recommendation is to decrease the speed and dominating presence of automobiles on

the main street (Adams Avenue) without decreasing actual auto numbers.

The project area includes Adams Avenue from Fourth Street to Greenwood Street, the south side of Jefferson Avenue and the intersections of Washington Avenue. Washington is scheduled to receive only the bulb outs at all four corners of its various intersections.

Parts of Adams Avenue, Jefferson Avenue and Washington Avenue between Fourth and Greenwood streets are on the national registers of historic districts.

The city has tried to get a $100,000 grant from the Northeast Oregon Alliance to provide low-interest loans to property owners for faade renovation and building rehabilitation, but no decision on that is expected soon. Such renovations could provide federal and state tax incentives for the owners.

Reach Ray Linker at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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