The Edmond Sun

May 17, 2013

City plans to hire downtown consultant

James Coburn
Special to The Sun

EDMOND — Conceptual ideas about how the City of Edmond may plan for downtown development were shared this week by David Forrest with members of the business community.

The Central Edmond Urban Development Board has revisited plans made in a 1998 Downtown Master Plan through public meetings and presentations to protect the future development of Broadway. Recommendations by the group will be taken into account by future city councils.

The 2012-13 city budget included $150,000 for a downtown feasibility study that will pay for a consultant, said Steve Commons, assistant city manager.

“In terms of the selection process, there was a committee that reviewed it. They’ve selected a firm to proceed forward,” Commons said. “That means we’ll develop a scope of work to give to them and then say, ‘price this scope of work.’”

The formal hiring of the consulting firm by the City Council is expected within a 60 days, Forrest said at the 4 o’clock Forecast event presented by the Edmond Economic Development Authority.

Edmond’s Central Business District area goes from Danforth to Ninth Street, to slightly west of the railroad tracks and then borders the University of Central Oklahoma and then to Ninth Street and Boulevard, said Janet Yowell, EEDA executive director.

Streetscaping, landscaping and the Festival Market Place are recommendations that have already come to fruition from the 1998 Downtown Master Plan process.

The Downtown Master Plan considers water features and a possible railway transit station being studied for an area south of Edmond Road and west of Broadway, said Forrest, a commercial Realtor. A traffic circle is recommended to be at Fifth Street and Broadway to signal people they are entering the downtown district, Forrest said.

“We also need the real infrastructure that will carry more development,” Forrest said. “That would be sewer, water and more utilities as well.”

Another idea is to make downtown more pedestrian friendly with fewer cars. An illustration showed cars parking diagonally down the middle of the street with the current two lane traffic on both sides reduced to single lanes.

David Chapman said Boulevard “is a scary place” south of Danforth.

“Navigating that Boulevard seems to me as big a problem as choking off Broadway for the few blocks you need downtown,” Chapman said.

Forrest agreed that calming the downtown traffic could put more traffic on Boulevard.

The proposed Pedestrian Bridge is also part of the master plan, Forrest said. The bridge would be east of the railroad tracks crossing West Edmond Road where it would link to more parking, he said.

In 2009 the Benham Company presented a bridge design that would cost the city a little more than $1 million, which also includes a $485,000 new parking lot with 142 spaces on the south side of West Edmond Road just west of Broadway. The cost of the bridge itself was projected at $565,500 in 2009. That project was delayed at the time in light of the need to pay for a new Public Safety Center, which is now being paid for by a half-cent dedicated sales tax.

Forrest said none of these ideas are concrete, but the city hopes a consultant will provide information and ideas on how to shepherd future downtown development.