Downtown businesses began receiving letters Friday asking for their input on a Main Street beautification program that would begin in 2014 if it's approved by the Kansas Department of Transportation — and the merchants.
"If the business community gets behind it, the city should take advantage of this chance for a facelift downtown," City Manager Dave Howard recommended to the City Commission Monday night.
The concern for Howard, the Commission and project engineer Alan Lutrell was that the project might come too soon for some merchants after the major upheaval of the recent South Main Street project, which closed off six blocks of downtown for several months.
The advantage for merchants and taxpayers is that KDOT would pay 80 percent of an estimated $1 million to "completely change the look of downtown" from sidewalks to planters to light poles and benches, Lutrell said.
Unlike many grant programs this one is not annual. It has been two years since KDOT offered this particular program, Lutrell said. Another opportunity may not come again soon.
Recreation Director Bruce Pinkall, who served as the city's liaison with downtown businesses during the Main Street project, has been tasked with collecting the response of merchants.
In other business, the Commission:
n Approved a $32,000 bid from TWS Inc. of Lebo to remove a decade of waste sludge from one of the holding ponds at the city's wastewater treatment plant. Improvements to the plant have made it so efficient that the sludge became too thick for the gravity feed system in the pond.
n Approved the closing of streets around the Municipal Building for the Nov. 17 Old Fashioned Christmas celebration.
n Tabled a proposal for increasing the electric utility deposit from $100 to $250 and lates charges from 2 percent to 10 percent of the total. Some commissioners expressed concern that the changes were greater than necessary.