Revitalization open house set for Thursday

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This screenshot from a presentation by Century West Engineering's Dennis Fuller during last week's City Council meeting depicts what the sidewalk along Cedar Street will look like when the first phase of the city's downtown revitalization project is complete.

SANDPOINT — City officials and Century West Engineering staff are teaming up to hold a second open house Thursday on the city's downtown revitalization project, which is set to begin this summer.

During the open house, Century West staff will review the first phase of the project, which includes the reconstruction of Cedar Street between Fifth and Second avenues and replacing a sewer main along First Avenue.

Some of the open house topics will include site furnishings, landscaping, bike rack locations, stormwater treatment, a revised street layout, loading zones and Americans with Disabilities Act parking locations.

"We are just really focusing on the phase one of the project that's happening this year," said Christine Fueston, business development and senior project manager with Century West.

During last week's City Council meeting, Dennis Fuller, Century West's phase one project manager, presented findings from a community survey that was administered during a previous open house on Jan. 19. About 100 people attended the open house and 70 filled out surveys.

"We actually had a really good participation," Fuller said. "... We are very pleased with the attendance."

Community members looked at three different themes of street furniture — traditional, natural and artisan themes — and the results of the survey showed those who attended preferred the artisan theme at 46 percent. Only 18 percent liked the traditional theme and 36 percent of attendees liked the natural theme.

The public also looked at two different options for the Cedar Street project. Fuller said the difference between the two options was mostly in the layout of the storm gardens and facilities along the sidewalks. The first option would raise the current number of parking spaces from 45 to 60, while the second option would increase the parking spaces to 57, but offers better turning at intersections. Although the second option had a few less parking spots, it was the preferred option according to survey results at 77 percent.

Another option the public looked at was parking along Church Street, which will be re-striped when the downtown streets revert to two-way this spring. The three options showed diagonal versus parallel parking options with different angles for the diagonal parking. The third option with angled diagonal parking was preferred by 86 percent of those who attended the open house.

Fuller also presented a preliminary project schedule, which indicated business and stakeholder meetings will take place between February and May, the design process is scheduled for completion in May, Cedar Street construction is scheduled to begin after Lost in the 50s in May and continue through November, and the sewer main on First Avenue will be replaced between August and November. During the replacement of the sewer main, areas of First Avenue will be closed and traffic rerouted, Fuller said.

The second and third phases of the downtown revitalization project are scheduled for the summers of 2018 and 2019. These phases will include Cedar Street from Second to First avenues, and First Avenue from Cedar to Lake streets.

"We haven't really determined which phase two will be and which will be phase three, but we will use the public process to get comments on that and develop a phasing plan," Fuller said.

The downtown revitalization project was initiated in December 2000 to engage the community in discussions about the future of its downtown. Efforts included pedestrian crossing safety improvements, improved lighting, the plaza and splash fountain at Jeff Jones Town Square, park improvements and the waterfront boardwalk and boat launch along Sand Creek. These improvements, coupled with private building investments and successful year-round events have given Sandpoint national recognition as one of “America’s Most Beautiful Small Towns” and "Best Places to Live,” and have established Downtown Sandpoint as the heart of the region.

Most of the funding for the final design and construction costs of the revitalization project is supported through the Sandpoint Urban Renewal Agency.

Century West recently launched a website dedicated to the revitalization project with an associated Facebook page at sandpointstreets.com.

The open house is scheduled from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday on the second-floor balcony in the Columbia Bank building, 414 Church St. Anyone in need of special accommodations to participate in the open house should contact the city's public works department by today at 208-263-3407. Written comments can be sent to the public works department as well at 1123 Lake Street, Sandpoint, or email cfueston@centurywest.com.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee

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