Wright County is conducting a paving and resurfacing project on Main Street (County Road 20) this coming spring and summer of 2016. This project will mill and overlay Main Street which will correct the road surface issues in this area.
This project presents an opportunity for the City to improve our Downtown area and feature Riverside Park by expanding the city’s sidewalks, burying overhead power lines and planting trees to create a scenic and walkable Downtown District. We would like your thoughts and comments on this potential project. Here are some of the details we have at this point:
- We do not need to do this project. If we decide not to move forward, the County will resurface Main Street and the area will be the same after the project is completed. We would likely not review a Main Street project for the downtown area again until the new road is in need of repairs, which is anticipated to be 25 to 30 years.
- Improving / Revitalizing Downtown has been part of the city’s Capital Improvement Plan for many years, and reviewing our Downtown options is one of the City’s goals for this year. If we decide to improve our Downtown area we would likely expand the sidewalks to improve walkability to the park, downtown businesses and slow traffic that currently speeds down Main Street. We would also look at burying the overhead power lines, installing antique street lights and planting trees to beautify our Downtown District. This improved area would run four blocks down Main Street from Highway 55 to Elm Street. Cities that have done similar projects have seen a noticeable increase in walkers, shoppers and retail businesses that are drawn to the increased commerce and improved location.
- The City would establish a Tax Increment Financing District that would capture the increase in property tax values from new construction and redevelopment in the Downton District, and use that source of revenue to fund the project. We would also receive funding from the County in cost savings they have in paving less road, would use state provided funding for street projects, existing bond proceeds, and funds previously allocated for road and sidewalk improvements in our Downtown area. We believe these funding sources could be sufficient to cover the expense of the project without associated increases in property taxes or levying special assessments.
- Finally, our planning process is in the very early stages. At this point we are trying to gather information and community input to determine whether or not a Main Street redevelopment project should be planned. We believe this project could be extremely beneficial to our community, but we would like to hear from you to understand your thoughts about this possible project.
The attached pictures are very rough drafts showing what the expanded sidewalks may look like, with pictures from Main Street in Ely, Minnesota showing a similar design and layout to what is shown on the draft drawings. Based upon what we know at this point, is this type of project something you would like to see in Downtown Rockford?