Competition expected to be stiff.

The Main Street Beautification Committee is seeking letters of support to submit with their application to Kansas Department of Transportation for a Transportation Enhancement Grant.

The letters are a vital part of the application process and will improve Pratt's chances of getting the KDOT Enhancement Grant, said Paul Stoner, EBH representative at a Monday committee meeting.

If the grant is approved, four blocks of downtown Pratt from First Street to Fifth Street will have an extensive renovation in 2014.

The committee is presenting their basic proposal to the Pratt City Commission on Feb. 4. Besides the beautification plan information, the committee will be seeking a Resolution of Support from the city commission, another essential part of the application process, Stoner said.

The committee would also appreciate a Resolution of Support from the county commissioners as well.

Letters of support can be from businesses, preferably on business letterhead, service organizations and private individuals. Letters need to be turned in by no later than 4 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 4 at the Pratt Recreation Office, said Bruce Pinkall, Pratt recreation director and beautification project spokesman.

That will give him time to collect all letters for presentation to the commission.

Another block worth of improvements is also in the works for the downtown beautification project.

Originally, the plan called for three blocks of improvements from First Street to Fourth Street but after the last meeting of the project committee it was decided to alter some improvements and spread them out so another block can be upgraded, Pinkall said.

"Adding a fourth block will give it (downtown) a cleaner look," Pinkall said.

The committee is actively seeking the KDOT grant because it is an 80-20 grant with KDOT paying 80 percent of the cost and the city paying 20 percent. Since grants like this don't come around often, many entities will be applying so everything Pratt can do to improve its chances of getting the grant, like letters of support, will be important in the application process, Stoner said.

The KDOT grant has 50 percent more money available this year than usual so they can fill more application requests. However, it is unknown how much money will be available when the next transportation bill is passed so Pratt should take advantage of the opportunity while they can, Pinkall said.

The committee is keeping a sharp eye on another possible project that would impact the downtown area and possibly the beautification plan.

The city has received a letter from the KDOT Bureau of Transportation, Safety and Technology offering HISP funding to the city to widen U.S. 54 at First and Main and add a turning lane for both east and west bound traffic.

The city is considering the 90-10 funds but at this time has made no decision if they will accept the offer. It is unknown at this time when construction would take place.

The beautification committee will closely monitor the situation and get more information on the time necessary for the turning lane project and what year it will take place.