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City: series of projects to revive downtown

Posted: Wednesday, Mar 12th, 2014

Phase one in a series of projects by the City will start with renovation of the breezeway at the property pictured above. (GAZETTE PHOTO/Jack Holt)

KEMMERER — Those frequenting downtown this summer will notice some cosmetic changes in the area.

The City of Kemmerer hopes to rejuvenate the downtown center with a series of projects that will gravitate people toward the area.

These projects, developed by the Main Street Committee and regulated by the State Main Street Committee, are designed as a way to stimulate economic growth in a city’s downtown area, while also improving the viability of that area.

The current phase of the project — phase one — will focus on the Triangle. However, plans for the project are much bigger than that.

“For Kemmerer’s downtown area, it’s the Triangle,” Kemmerer City Administrator Rebecca Davidson said. “The project is bigger than that but the main focus is the Triangle.”

The overall project area will encompass three blocks on Pine Street with a two-block radius around the Triangle.

Phase one of the project will focus on cleaning the area around the Triangle while also developing the breezeway that’s owned by the city, between the Kemmerer Gazette building and the Stock Exchange.

“We got a lot of comments that we need to clean out curbs and clean up the streets,” Davidson said.

The breezeway will feature concrete with an alternating color scheme and different lighting. In the breezeway, there will be benches as well as the possibility of trees or other plants.

The idea for the project came after a survey was made last summer asking citizens about their preferences between statues in the Triangle versus developing the breezeway.

“It was close, but more people leaned towards the breezeway,” Davidson said.

The statue project will still proceed but will be delayed until 2015.

Most of the funding for the project comes from grant money supplied by the State Main Street Committee, as well as a Bricks and Mortar Grant.

Out of the $27,500 dedicated to the project, the city only had to match $2,000.

However, the breezeway isn’t the only focus for phase one.

“Another part of this project will be to repave the streets around the Triangle, as well as in front of the senior center,” Davidson said. “That will make it easier for vendors and people to walk around during these big events.”

The paving part of the project will be paid for by leftover funds that were allocated last year.

As far as the next phases are concerned, there isn’t anything concrete as far as details, but the city’s Main Street Committee is currently developing ideas for what to do next.

“The question is, ‘How do we improve the look, the static and the appeal?’” Davidson said. “How do we do more down here that makes it better for everybody?”

Davidson approached some businesses around the Triangle with some ideas for expanding the project, but they weren’t well received.

“We’re taking these ideas back to the Main Street Committee. We want to create something that the owners of private property would be on board with,” Davidson said.

The next phases will depend on what business owners and citizens prefer.

“Clearly we’re not going to do something on private property without their approval,” Davidson said.

Concerns were raised at the Kemmerer City Council meeting on March 10 about the project and the use of private property without permission, to which Mayor Zem Hopkins replied, “We’re not going to use public condemnation to take the property.”

Councilman Jim Burnett reinforced Hopkins’ statement.

“We’re not using private property for the current breezeway project,” Burnett said. “That’s not even a consideration.”

Phase one will go out to bid later this March, and will take less than a month to complete. The city hopes to complete it before Fossil Fest.

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