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Sunnyside nearly ready for next step in city's downtown revitalization effort

Ideas have been shared and renderings depicting those ideas have been created.

The next step, according to Jeff Louman of Huibregtse Louman Associates, is to find funding for the design of the downtown revitalization project.

He last night told the Sunnyside City Council it may wish to change its six-year transportation plan if the revitalization of the downtown corridor is not included in that plan.

As a result of the council approving funding for his engineering firm to work with citizens in the community, Louman said a steering committee for the revitalization effort was established. There have been several meetings, including a hearing on the ideas that were exchanged.

Louman said members of the committee were interested in using historic three-globe lights in the downtown core much like those depicted in an early photograph of Sunnyside.

He also noted the city has a number of signals and plenty of parking downtown, stating some of the current signal lights could be removed or exchanged for a different type of signal light.

Louman suggested opening up the space by removing the lights strung across intersections and widening sidewalks by exchanging diagonal parking within a four-block radius of South Sixth Street and East Edison with parallel parking.

South Sixth Street and East Edison, he said, was identified by the steering committee as the center of the downtown core.

"Also discussed was the type of materials to use for the sidewalks and among the materials considered were brick pavers," said Louman.

He said the steering committee wanted to leave the intersection near Centennial Square free of "bulb outs." To draw the eye and delineate the downtown corridor from the remainder of the city streets, he said the group decided bulb outs would be useful at the entrances to downtown. An example of such an entrance would be the intersections at South Sixth Street and East Franklin Avenue, South Sixth Street and East Decatur Avenue, South Seventh Street and East Edison Avenue and South Fifth Street and East Edison Avenue.

"There's a lot of pride in the community...there's a lot of events in the community," Louman said, stating an idea for highlighting community events was the installation of story poles at the entrances to the downtown core.

Trees, landscaping, lighting and use of the alleyways were also included in discussions.

Louman said the discussions have ended and now the city needs to develop a plan.

The estimated cost for a complete downtown revitalization, including upgrades to utilities, is $3.66 million. For base street improvements, he said the estimate is $2.3 million.

Louman urged council to seek a surface transportation program grant in the amount of $250,000 for the next phase in the project, design.

By developing a plan, he said the city would be in a better position to seek further funding opportunities. Those opportunities may include Community Development Block Grants, Transportation Improvement Board Grants and additional grants from the Surface Transportation Program.

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