As the snow flurries begin to fly and the 2011 construction season nears an end, the final touches on Phase 2 of the Kent City Streetscape are nearing completion.
The Village of Kent City Downtown Development Authority has been actively planning, and constructing its downtown streetscape project since 2008. According to Andrew Bostwick, of the Kent City DDA, the project was made possible by two major funding sources, as well as the DDA monies saved over the last 15 years. The DDA is structured to capture and retain a percentage of property taxes to stay within the district. Funds collected by the DDA are being used to pay for the matching portion of the project.
American Recovery & Reinvestment Act stimulus funding, provided through the Grand Valley Metro Council, provided funding to repave the road surface. MDOT funded the remainder of the project with matching funds through a Transportation Enhancement Act (TEA) grant. These funds provided many improvements such as new LED lighting, a community shade structure, enhanced stormwater runoff collection, new curbs, benches, street trees, trash barrels, and many other improvements.
According to Bostwick, the intent of the streetscape design is to incorporate a green design into the project. “The library plaza is a good example of this design. Permeable pavers provide a courtyard plaza for library patrons to enjoy, while lessening the impact of stormwater runoff. Rain barrels are installed to capture rainwater, and to aid the DPW workers in watering the trees and planters.”
New LED lighting will help lower the operating costs and provide a more efficient light source. A photometrics study was completed to help ensure an even flow of lighting across the entire downtown.
The Shade structure is meant to replicate a gazebo that once existed near the same location. The public is welcome to use the structure to meet friends, read, eat lunch, etc.
The final touches include the much-awaited removal of the electric poles from the street. Bostwick said that longtime village residents have expressed great joy that the street poles would one day be removed.
Bostwick noted that all of the DDA members have worked diligently to ensure that the project has continued to move ahead. Whenever possible, the DDA worked with the MDOT contractor to hire local businesses to help complete the project. “The community of Kent City is the benefactor of this project thanks to all parties involved with the construction. Residents are encouraged to take some time to walk through the downtown and enjoy the improvements,” he said.