Tremonton City officials are starting to get down to details on a beautification plan for Main Street, after a consultant recently gave his final report from a study that began three years ago.
Last week, the Tremonton City Council held a discussion about which recommendations from that report they would like to prioritize, and how to approach the project once funding becomes available through the city’s redevelopment agency.
The report from Salt Lake City-based consultant Soren Simonsen highlights four main areas of improvement based on feedback from the public, which was obtained through surveys and open house events. Those areas are: Improving street lights, banners and planters; strong gateway markers such as arches or monument signs welcoming people to downtown; added landscaping with planters at intersections and mid-block points; and a design approach featuring both traditional and contemporary elements.
“Those are some of the top priorities as I see it,” Councilmember Bret Rohde said. “The banners and planters and the sidewalks, that whole downtown look, I feel are important. Improved crosswalks are also important.”
Much of last week’s discussion revolved around the power poles along Main Street. The current poles are owned by Rocky Mountain Power, but many in the city would like to replace those with city-owned poles. That’s something that has been discussed in the past, Public Works Director Paul Fulgham said.
“One day we had a goal of removing the Rocky Mountain Power poles and putting in our own, so we can get away from them and put up a better looking light,” Fulgham said.
He said the city owns nine light poles around the ShopKo building in Tremont Center, and while those cost about $2,000 apiece, they only cost the city about $15 a month to power. He said another option could be solar-powered lights, although they tend be expensive up-front.
Officials want poles that can accommodate large hanging planters, as well as banners that could be hung for local celebrations, big high school sporting events and other events that bring the community together and draw visitors, like the Box Elder County Fair.
Councilmember Connie Archibald said much of the feedback she has received from Tremonton residents is about the downtown display for the holidays – or the lack thereof.
“We need to have power poles or lights that can accommodate the ability for us to put up something nice during the holidays,” she said. “I’ve heard from people who are disgusted with the way that looks.”
Putting in new poles with electrical conduit and water lines to water the plants would require tearing up and replacing the sidewalks along the downtown project corridor, which runs along Main from 300 East to 400 West. Councilmembers decided they were in favor of taking on that aspect of the project first, likely doing one block at a time.
“You’ve almost got to do streetscape first because you have to build the infrastructure to get water to it, so you can get everything to these poles,” Rohde said.
Councilmember Lyle Vance said he favors taking the trees out along the downtown portion of the street, and instead just having the new poles with planter baskets hanging from them. The trees clutter up the street and make it harder for people to see the businesses there, he said.
Officials still need to shop around to get a better picture of how much the poles will cost. At an estimate of $7,000 per pole, with 42 poles in total (six each for seven blocks), the cost could range upward of $350,000.
Improvements in the Main Street would be eligible for tax increment funding captured through the city’s redevelopment agency. That funding is currently tied up in repaying the Bear River Canal Co. for improvements to the canal system, but once that is taken care of, the city should have about $2.4 million in RDA funds coming to help pay for the project, City Manager Shawn Warnke said.
With several new residential housing development projects coming to town, “these next two years are going to be pretty telling about where the RDA is going to be at,” Warnke said.
The recently completed study also recommends things like improvements to make crosswalks safer and more pedestrian-friendly, stamped concrete, strategically placed bicycle racks, and some other details. Warnke recommended following the findings of the study closely and thoroughly.
“In my opinion, you’d be better served to do one block entirely and show the public what you’re trying to accomplish, then continue,” Warnke said. “These are urban design professionals who put this together. The plan you paid for really includes what you’re talking about and anticipating.”
Councilmember Lyle Holmgren said the downtown Main Street corridor doesn’t have a lot of space, so any plans will have to keep that in mind.
“The issue with Main Street, it’s just narrow, so we don’t have a lot of options compared to some other communities,” he said.
Vance said a good estimate of the cost needs to be available before anything can proceed, and agreed that once that happens, doing one block first is the most prudent way to move ahead.
“If you do one of these, maybe people will start fixing their own shops up when they see that there’s some type of effort being made towards Main Street,” he said.
Warnke said the next step would be to get an engineering cost estimate.
“We could essentially come up with an average cost to do a block,” he said.