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Thursday's News reported that funds to improve a four-block area of Main Street are running dry, leaving only one block with the amenities many of us were hoping would come to all four blocks included in the project.
The city had nearly $700,000 for the four-block area, $500,000 in grant dollars from the state and close to $200,000 of city money. The project was bid last summer but proposals came in too high. It was then that some aspects of the project were changed, but the scope of modifications weren't fully disclosed. It was announced that the Tell City Electric Department had agreed to shoulder some of the initial cost of the street lamps, with the city reimbursing the utility, but the elimination of benches, bike racks and trash receptacles wasn't reported in any public meeting we attended and cutbacks in the number of trees going into the four blocks, weren't announced, either. We believe those changes should have been broadcast, considering that our and the public's expectations were based on public meetings held before the project was changed.
Kleeman Trucking and Excavating, the Troy firm awarded the bid last year, is doing good work and isn't contributing to the debate.
So now while the City Hall block will have benches and shrubs - the remaining three blocks will have sod in the sidewalk openings. We're not sure that's going to make for an attractive Main Street. So, what can be done? First, money devoted to bike racks could be diverted to trash receptacles and benches, in that order. We certainly hope Main Street draws lots of bicyclists and our understanding is that bike lanes are supposed to be painted in the four blocks. While the metal bike racks are no doubt attractive, we believe the money could be better spent on benches and trash bins.
We hope bicycles left unattended during a few minutes of shopping or walking around City Hall Park won't be stolen during broad daylight. Tell City isn't Indianapolis or Evansville. We know bicycles are stolen in the city, but most are taken from front yards and front porches, not streets.
If the order for bike racks can't be canceled, why not spread them out along the four blocks, not just around City Hall?
Next, the city should invite businesses and local civic groups to adopt areas within the four blocks and to invest in shrubs for the three blocks that won't be getting any under the plan as we know it.
Representatives of Tri Kappa were at last Monday's meeting and asked if they should be preparing to return the wooden planters members have placed and maintained at some Main Street intersections. The group sounds willing to help and we expect owners and employees of some businesses feel the same way.
What the city needs now from the project's architect is a blueprint for what types of landscaping would be the most apt to thrive and an idea of how much work will be involved in maintaining those areas once the project is wrapped up.
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