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Streetscape project could help facilitate economic development

Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, is scheduled to consider approving a proposal to develop a plan for downtown streetscape improvements.

Allison Platt & Associates and Rivers & Associates submitted the proposal. The city asked Allison Platt and Mark Garner with Rivers & Associates to prepare a letter of interest and a proposal for work regarding the streetscape design for the section of West Main Street from Respess Street to Gladden Street.

The council also will consider authorizing the mayor to execute a contract not to exceed $20,000 with Platt/Rivers to develop the streetscape plan for that section of West Main Street. “Furthermore, two design concepts will be produced for the intersection of West Main Street and Gladden Street,” reads memorandum from Martyn Johnson, Beaufort County’s economic-development director, to the mayor and council members.

Downtown streetscape improvements are viewed by city officials as a way to help stimulate economic development and improve downtown aesthetics. “This strategy of leading with public improvements to stimulate private investment has been very successful in many of the communities in which AP&A has worked, such as New Bern and Goldsboro, NC and Danville, VA,” Platt wrote in the letter of interest she sent to City Manager Bobby Roberson.

Platt said the Platt/Rivers effort to develop the plan would include opportunities for the public to provide input. Meetings with the public, downtown stakeholders and the City Council to discuss the project likely would be conducted, she noted. “We will present and discuss the streetscape/open space concepts and reach consensus on the preferred plan,” Platt wrote in the letter.

City officials have discussed completing a one-block section of its planned downtown streetscape improvements project as a way to leverage more state grant funds for the entire project. During its Feb. 26 meeting, the council and Mayor Mac Hodges discussed the issue during its review of projects included in the city’s capital-improvements plan.

The city plans to implement the streetscape project in phases as it finds money for the project’s components — a pay-as-you-go plan. That project includes, but it not limited to, aesthetic improvements such sidewalk upgrades, reconfiguring the intersection of Gladden Street, West Main Street and Stewart Parkway and landscaping. The one-block section on West Main Street runs from Gladden Street westward to Respess Street. The $275,000 in the CIP for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which begins July 1, does not cover the cost of installing new water and/or sewer lines and other utilities in that one-block section.

At the Feb. 26 meeting, Hodges said Goldsboro was turned down about five times for state funding to help pay for a similar project. After completing a one-block section of its streetscape plan, it received state funds to continue implementing its plan, he said. He believes Washington would benefit by following Goldsboro’s approach.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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