The Marion City Council approved having the PRIDE committee go forward on its enhancement grant application for the downtown area with the city agreeing to commit an estimated $239,000.
Pam Bowers, PRIDE committee member, said she has been working with Darin Neufeld, a supportive business owner and engineer with EBH & Associates, on the grant proposal.
Based on a community survey given a couple of years ago, she said, the committee received responses about the park, recreation areas and downtown
“Improvement of the downtown was high on the list,” she said. “We then had two public meetings and discussed what they wanted done and then talked with downtown merchants.”
Neufeld said Bowers asked him to look at an original plan from the 1980s.
“Most of what the committee is recommending,” he said, “is this exact plan.”
Neufeld said there haven’t been a lot of physical changes to the location.
“For the most part it’s the same plan, we just dusted it off the shelf,” he said.
Using a map, Neufeld said he wanted to give the council an idea of the general area.
“The area of discussion is all the way from Elm Street, the city park and all the way down to Walnut,” he said.
Providing the council with a packet, Neufeld said some 36 individuals and businesses support something being done.
“What we have come up with is a plan and is a starting point from the (PRIDE) committee of what they would like to see done,” he said.
The cost estimate of the project is $825,000, which is a little inflated, he said, to make sure to cover the next 12 to 18 months.
Adding in the site work, which is not included in the grant would raise the price to $907,000.
“With an 80-20 (percent) split,” Neufeld said, “the grant request would be $725,000 and the city share $181,000.”
The design engineering is not grant eligible, though, which would mean the total city share is $239,000, he said.
“If this was priced out with a 20-year, 3.1 percent bond to complete the work,” he said, “it comes in at $16,000 a year.”
Using the current population in the city, Neufeld said the cost per person would be about $8.34 a month.
Neufeld talked about the intersection on the southwest corner of First and Main streets, describing the committee’s recommendation for an LED sign, similar to what Dighton has.
The committee also recommended approaching USD 408 and having a joint sign—community events and school activities, he said.
Another aspect involved lights at intersections using cobra head-type lighting with back side of the having a lower globe, same as the intermediate pole.
“Four would be planned in each block,” Neufeld said. “They would have a good appearance and well lit enough to walk down sidewalks.”
Other improvements included brickwork, resurfacing the corridors at First to Fifth streets with black asphalt and using color differential crosswalks and matching brick side streets.
Full details of the prepared plan are available at city hall.
Neufeld said the good news about this KDOT grant is there is extra money in the fund.
The bad news, he said, is the reason they have more money is because it is the last year for this type of grant.
“A replacement grant (is in the works) but is tied up in federal lingo and it’s not sure when it comes out,” he said.
The other bad news is that KDOT?has made it well-known that they are anticipating 30 to 40 percent more applications.
“We are here now to see if the city council believes it is worthwhile to move forward on this,” he said.
If the grant is awarded to Marion, he said, the city could take up to a couple of years to spend the money.
“It could be budgeted for 2014,” Neufeld added.
Jeanice Thomas, another committee member, said that on behalf of everybody in PRIDE, they would be “exceedingly disappointed in the council” if they did not say this is something that should be pursued.
Mayor Mary Olson said that while she was supportive, she also doesn’t want to run the city into a place with no people.
In other business, the council:
• approved the planning commission’s request for a conditional use permit for the Marion County communication tower for the new jail.
• approved allowing city administrator Doug Kjellin to dispose of city equipment via Purple Wave auction.
• proclaimed National Family Week from Nov. 18 through Nov. 24 and American Education Week from Nov. 11 through Nov. 17.
• accepted job descriptions for cemetery sexton and laborer.
• approved a resolution establishing banking accounts with Marion National Bank.
The next council meeting is at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 26.