Thursday, May 17, 2012
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Downtown revitalization committee offers update to city council

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[May 17, 2012]  Tuesday evening Patrick Doolin, Seth Goodman and David Lanterman came to the Lincoln City Council committee of the whole workshop to offer a progress report on the city's downtown revitalization project.

The idea of a downtown revitalization project first came to light in August of 2010 when the city of Lincoln and Main Street Lincoln co-hosted an open house to début a streetscape plan for the heart of the city.

After the open house, the discussions on the plan and available grant funding moved into the regular meeting of the city council committee of the whole.

Lisa Kramer of Prairie Engineers was present, and it was discussed that she would apply for grants on behalf of the city to help fund improvement projects.

At that time there were two grants available, a Community Development Assistance Program grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and another from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The CDAP grant was designated as funds to develop a plan, while the other was for implementation. The CDAP grant was for $675,000 and the IDOT grant for $1,875,000.

The city did not win the IDOT grant, but in January of this year the council learned that the city had been awarded the $675,000 CDAP grant.

With the award in hand, a steering committee was created to work with Kramer in developing a plan for what the city would like to do to revitalize the downtown area.

The committee consists of Barbara Blackburn, Doolin, Goodman, Lanterman, Bob Neal, Alderwoman Marty Neitzel and Snyder.

On Tuesday evening, Lanterman spoke on behalf of the group, saying first that the steering committee appreciated the city asking them to be a part of this important process.

He explained that the funds expended for planning would total $775,000, with $675,000 being the grant and the city providing $100,000 in matching funds.

Of the total dollars, $336,000 will be spent on creating the design or plan for the downtown revitalization.

He said the city would be asked to approve entering into a contract with Prairie Engineers for this amount. Lanterman said other firms would be involved in the planning process, but they would be hired by and paid by Prairie Engineers.

The firms that will be involved in the planning process are:

  • Civil engineers
    Lisa Kramer, P.E., Darren Forgy, P.E., PLS, Matthew Miller, PLS, E.I., Prairie Engineers of Illinois, P.C., Lincoln,

  • Urban planner
    Ian Colgan, AICP, Development Concepts Inc., Indianapolis, Ind.

  • Traffic engineer
    Kurt Bialobreski, P.E., PTOE, Hanson Professional Services Inc., Peoria

  • Architect
    Keddy Hudson, AIA, Kennedy Hudson and Associates, Monticello

  • Landscape architects
    Kent Massie, PLA, ASLA, Sue Massie, APA, Massie Massie & Associates, Springfield

  • Aerial mapping
    Frank Taylor, CP (ASPRS), Continental Mapping Consultants Inc., Indianapolis, Ind.

  • Electrical engineer
    Ryan Nation, P.E., Hanson Professional Services Inc., Springfield

  • Historical
    Cory Jobe, Preservation and Economic Development Consultants, Springfield

Lanterman said the balance of the dollars will be used for some implementation projects, but those have not yet been identified and defined. He said the committee will return to the council at a later date with more information on those.

The committee provided a 20-page progress and recommendation report to the council.

Included in that report was a chart outlining how Prairie Engineers would spend their $336,000. The chart indicated 10 percent would be spent on a downtown redevelopment plan, 16 percent on a downtown revitalization plan, 6 percent would be for façade improvements and historic preservation, 5 percent would go to a downtown traffic and parking study, and 1 percent would go to Prairies Engineers as the grant managers.

Lanterman pointed out that in addition to all that, 5 percent was designated for the two downtown parks, Scully and Latham, as well as the courthouse square. He said that even though these are county properties, the committee had felt it would not be wise to leave them out, because they are a vital part of the downtown area.

He also indicated the committee will provide information to the Logan County Board and speak with them on plans for the county-owned properties.

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During discussion, Alderman David Wilmert said first he was pleased to see that the administrative fees on the chart were a very small sliver of the total dollars represented. He wondered, though, about the large amount designated for planning and asked if the amount were not top-heavy. He noted that it didn't appear to leave very much for actual implementation of the plan.

Lanterman explained that the purpose of this particular grant is for plan development. He said grants to develop a plan don't come along nearly as often as grants to implement a plan.

He said the committee had considered they wanted a long-range plan for the city --something that would stretch out over the length of five to 10 years.

Doolin also spoke up, saying that at this point, having a plan is the most important part of the process. He pointed out the city has lost implementation grants in the past because they had no plan.

Wilmert then asked, in light of this information, if the $336,000 was enough to develop the long-term plan.

Lanterman said the committee felt that it was.

Alderwoman Kathy Horn also spoke, saying she wanted to thank the group for coming to the council. She noted that in times past, things have gone on that the council knew nothing about, so she was pleased at the amount of information the committee had provided them.

Lanterman said the steering committee has maintained a goal of keeping the public informed about the projects and their progress. He said the document the council had in front of them included provisions for public participation.

In addition, Prairie Engineers will set up a website where the general public can view the progress of the committee throughout the process.

Neitzel asked if the document the committee submitted was something that had to be put on the agenda for approval.

Snyder said it was. He said the Steering Committee Report & Recommendations document would serve as the city's work order for the entire project.

It was also mentioned the report would have to be submitted to DCEO and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency for their approval as well.

In addition, the city will need to put on the council agenda a motion to hire Prairie Engineers as the primary consultant for the project.

As the discussion began to wind down, Doolin said he wanted to remind the council that approving this report was just the first step of several. He said, "We want you to understand this is the beginning, not the end."

According to the DCEO grant guidelines, the committee has two years to complete the planning project or the money will be forfeited. This means this first step should be completed no later than December 2013.

Later in the meeting, Snyder said the IDOT grant the city lost out on in 2010 was once again available. He said the application the city used then was still pretty close to accurate and would only need a little tweaking to be ready to submit again.

He also said one of the primary reasons the city lost out on the grant in 2010 was because they did not have a revitalization plan.

In addition to the report, the steering committee provided aldermen with a set of frequently asked questions to use as a guide when discussing the project with constituents.


Click here to view a copy of the steering committee report.

Click here to view FAQs.


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