Paul Stoner of the engineering firm Evans-Bierly-Hutchinson & Associates (EBH) presented an overview of possibilities for a beautification project for Pratt's Main Street during a meeting Thursday evening. The project construction costs could be funded 80-20 through a Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) grant. Line items and cost estimates for the possible project have not been computed at this point.

However, KDOT would pay 100 percent of the design costs for the project if it were to be funded. Design costs normally run 10-12 percent of the cost of the project, according to Pratt City Manager Dave Howard.

Pratt Recreation Director Bruce Pinkhall noted the Pratt City Commission has approved the study committee looking into applying for a KDOT grant. The deadline for the application is Feb. 15, according to Stoner, with KDOT reviewing the applications for funding in June and announcing funding of grants during the summer. Construction could start in the spring or summer of 2014, if the project were to be funded.

An inventory of previous beautification facilities on Main Street was completed during the new roadway construction on Pratt's Main Street. The last time Main Street was beautified was over 40-years ago, according to Pinkhall and Howard.

"The existing planters and brick designs are not as attractive as they should be… the planters are damaged and trees of several different varieties," Stoner said. "The seeds on the sidewalk are not attractive."

Trees are only good for a lifespan of 10-15-years and after that you have to take them out, according to Stoner. Additionally, leaves from different tree varieties can create maintenance problems. Stoner proposed evergreens as a possibility to reduce leaves and problems with birds nesting in the trees.

Pinkhall said the Pratt City Park Department is currently taking care of the planters and will do so for the new design if it is funded. A water supply was added to each block for the planters during recent street construction and would be available for future needs. Currently there are 12 small planters on some blocks on Main Street and a total of 45. It is anticipated the proposed new design will have larger planters and fewer offerings.

The group held a lengthy discussion relating to the style and type of lighting to be proposed and the type of planters to be installed. It was generally accepted by the group they wanted planted to be at least 18 inches tall instead of 6 inches to prevent tripping. This could also provide additional seating when needed.

Stoner will be drafting a proposed design over the next couple of weeks, which will include all of the design elements and line items for the project. The design will be exhibited at city hall for the public to see once it is approved.

"If there's not a line item for something – you can't add it later," said Stoner. "They (KDOT) will let you subtract items, but won't let you add."