The City Council voted 3-0 Monday in favor of a $300,000 contract with Freese and Nichols Inc., to make recommendations for the Downtown Master Plan Study.
This consultant fee represents the city’s budget allocations spanning two years, said Charles Lamb, mayor.
“I’m concerned in this respect, because I’ve talked to a lot of businesses downtown,” said Pete Reeser, a local developer. “I’ve been in business downtown for a number of years. Nobody has a problem with business downtown. We don’t have a problem down there and we don’t want it fixed.”
Freese and Nichols will limit the study to part of the Central Business District area extending from Danforth to Fifth Street.
The entire district extends 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.
“I’d urge you to take this $300,000 to buy land to build a parking lot some place,” Reeser said.
Lamb said the Central Edmond Urban Development Board has thoroughly discussed hiring a consultant to assist the council with ideas that will give a refreshed look to the core of Broadway. It’s a recommendation adopted by the City Council.
In 2010, the 1998 Downtown Master Plan Review Task Force began to revisit plans made in the 1998 Downtown Master Plan. These public meetings included presentations and workshops. All workshops and public meetings are posted on the city’s website at edmondok.com.
The 2010 Downtown Master Plan takes into account a possible railroad station being studied for an area south of Edmond Road and east of Broadway.
The Freese and Nichols study is not predicated on problems, but focuses on the next steps to be taken Lamb said. There are challenges on Broadway to be addressed, he said.
The Urban Board’s recommendations from the two studies will be examined by Freese Nichols. Local developers also will be consulted along with public comment, according to Lamb and Wendy Shabay, an associate urban planner with Freese Nichols of Fort Worth.
Water features along with the railway transit station were recommended by the task force. A traffic circle was recommended to be at Fifth Street and Broadway to signal people they are entering the downtown district. These are all conceptual ideas, said David Forrest, taskforce member and longtime Urban Board member.
Another idea presented by the task force is to make downtown more pedestrian friendly with fewer cars, Forrest reiterated to The Edmond Sun on Tuesday. Reeser questioned the practicality of the reducing those lanes of traffic from four to two.
The taskforce and Urban Board have suggested the use of diagonal parking for cars down the middle of Broadway. The current two-lane traffic on both sides could be reduced to single lanes in a three-block area of historic downtown, said Forrest, who did not attend the council meeting.
“All it’s been is discussion. It’s been put down in writing,” Forrest said of the 2010 Edmond Downtown Master Plan Update. “It’s one of the goals and one of the things to consider to improve the pedestrian-friendly aspect of core parts of downtown.”
The proposed pedestrian bridge is also part of the Downtown Master Plan. The bridge would be east of the railroad tracks crossing West Edmond Road where it would link to more parking, he said. In a January, 2012 story, Lamb told The Edmond Sun that it is time for the city to consider constructing the proposed Pedestrian Bridge.
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.
Reeser said there are no problems downtown. “We’ve been doing great the last four years,” he said.
Downtown business people want to secure the district’s positive momentum from recent years, said Elizabeth Waner, city councilwoman.
“The plan may say to build parking lots,” Waner said. “But I think it’s worthwhile to look ahead from this point when we are doing well to make sure you can keep doing well.”
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