Commission recognizes employees for longtime service.

A plan for the Main Street Streetscape Project took a step towards reality Monday night when the Pratt City Commissioners approved $7,500 for the development of concept plans, transportation enhancement application and proposed engineer services contract with EBH and Associates.

The action took place during the regular city commission meeting Monday.

With the passage of the proposal, EBH will start the process of developing the downtown plan that includes talking with all downtown businesses to get their input, public meetings to hear concerns about the project and then developing a plan that will grow from those meetings, said Paul Stoner, EBH office manager.

Options of a two-part plan that starts with three blocks then two more or a one-part plan that covers five blocks will be considered.

Bruce Pinkall, city recreation director who is contacting businesses directly about the project, said he had already been in touch with several businesses and they should have received information packets about the project.

To help meet the potential cost of the project, a Kansas Department of Transportation grant will be pursed. Competition for the KDOT grant will be very competitive.

Approximately 130 people from different Kansas' communities attended a workshop about applying for the grant. Total grant money available is $15 million.

Pratt will try to keep their grant bid between $700,000 to $800,000, Pinkall said.

Part of EBH's responsibilities will be writing the grant application. Deadline for the application is Feb. 15.

With the holidays approaching, that leaves little time so the commissioners voted to have EBH develop the plans.

Estimated cost for three blocks is $1.1 million for three blocks and $1.9 million for five blocks. The city would have a minimum 20 percent participation requirement plus engineering.

These are very preliminary numbers since the concept plans have yet to be developed. If approved the project would not start until 2014. This would give the city a chance to get ample feedback on what the downtown businesses would like to do, Pinkall said.

Feedback on the project is vital. Commissioner Karen Detwiler said she had talked to downtown retailers that had told her they had taken a very big financial hit during the main street project in 2011 and that they could not take another hit like that again ever and survive.

Stoner said when they do a project they do it block by with no parking on one side and a temporary access to every business would be in place.

Along with approving the development of downtown Streetscape plans, the commissioners agreed to provide DeWayne Bryan with a letter of agreement to support efforts to get a grant to help form a committee to develop plans to enhance and support healthy activities within the city.

In other action:

• The commissioners approved increasing the electrical deposit fee to $200. The action would also the city clerk to waive the fee if a new person could produce a letter of credit from a previous Kansas municipality that showed a satisfactory payment of municipal utility bills.

• The commissioners approved an increase from two percent to five percent in the late payment charge for delinquent electric bills.

• The Commissioners approved $27,757 for purchase of new playground equipment, landing material and edge holders from Children's Specialties for the Loren Minnis Park on South Main.

• The commissioners approved $18,591 (without tax) from the electrical production capital outlays equipment fund for three voltage transformers for relay protection. Instrument Transformer Equipment Corporation got the bid. Stanion Wholesale Electric also submitted a bid but it was higher.

• The city also recognized several employees for years of service including Mary Hammond for 35 years with the power plant, and Edwin Gould for 40 years in the street maintenance department.