Harlem residents got their first look at the proposed plans for the city's downtown revitalization project and made a few suggestions for improvements during a public meeting last week.
John McClellan of Ben G. Turnipseed Engineering in Martinez presented the proposed plans for the $300,000 project. The improvements will include adding lights, resurfacing sidewalks and improving curbs along North Louisville Street.
"We wanted to get people's input about the project," said McClellan. "I live in this area, too, and I want to see this happen."
The project is being funded in cooperation with the Department of Transportation, with 80 percent of the money coming from a grant and 20 percent from city funds.
"We applied for the Transportation and Enhancement grant in 2000 and this is one of our first meetings to let downtown merchants and residents see what the plans look like," said Harlem City Manager Jean Dove.
Some of the proposed improvements include:
Adding trash cans, park benches, trees and shrubs and 20 lampposts to the downtown area
Adding an overlay material to preserve the existing sidewalks
New crosswalks near the library and near the community center
Handicapped access at elevation changes along the sidewalk
"The main attractions will be what we call the trail head areas with seating for pedestrian seating, benches around a clock," McClellan said. "There will be commemorative bricks that people can purchase that will be used in these areas."
Several of the residents in attendance expressed concerns about the curbs that are damaged by tractor-trailer trucks.
"That is one thing that we will definitely take into consideration," McClellan said.
There also will be some changes to the parking downtown. Six parking lots will be removed: two in front of BG's Deli and Fine Catering on North Louisville Road and a few from near the old theater. Four parking spaces will be added to the other side of the road and the lanes will be widened.
Also, the lot behind Coleman Plumbing and Heating and Unique Designs will be paved. Lampposts will be added to the area and McClellan said that most of the trees that are already in the lot would be preserved.
"We are going to organize the lot and maximize the number of spaces to about 28," he said.
The area in front of the Harlem Fire Department will be paved. McClellan said that the project will go to bid in the spring.
"We hope to have the project nearly complete by the Oliver Hardy Festival in October (2003)," he said. That's our goal."
McClellan said that more meetings will be held but have not yet been scheduled.
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