City holds community meeting on downtown construction
On September 4, at Calvary Chapel, the City of Mountain Home representatives, planners for the project Horrocks Engineers and General contractors Guho Corp., hosted a community Q&A regarding the downtown improvement project.
Citizens were encouraged to attend and participate in the meeting where details of the project were discussed. The Downtown Revitalization Project began construction on September 9. Construction will begin on Main Street at the East Jackson to East 2nd North Street block and travel towards East 5th North Street adjacent to Albertsons.
The loss of parking spots was brought up and there was concern on the part of a few citizens at the meeting. There would have been a total of 56 parking spots lost but after reconfiguration of the original plans there will be 32 parking spots lost. Taylor Neveu, Economic Development Specialist, said for example, “The strip from American Legion to 4th Street, Silver Key down to Bee Dashing, a parking space right in front of Bee Dashing will be in the access area, so it will go away because it is a dangerous spot.” Courtney Lewis, Economic Development Executive Director, said, “When we did the parking study for downtown, Boise State conducted the study, we have ample parking. One of the issues will be changing one’s mind set. Right now, the expectation is to be able to park right in front of a business, but the distance from where you park at Wal-Mart to get into the store, you will not have to walk further then that here.” The parking will have to stay parallel since it is an Idaho Transportation Department road and they do not allow diagonal parking. The side street parking will stay the same and there will be the added Hub Plaza parking, and Railroad park can be used for parking as well. The city will be looking into having the parking lot paved in the future. Another parking feature will be handicap parking, which there is currently none of, in the downtown area. Currently when you drive under the underpass the speed goes from 35-25 mph, because it’s a dangerous area for pedestrians. With the upcoming changes it will make the downtown more pedestrian friendly by going from three lanes to two lanes of traffic. ITD did not see the need for a Hawk System in our downtown area because there is not enough pedestrian traffic in downtown to justify it, but once more foot traffic starts happening ITD will be sent back out for another study. According to the city these downtown improvements are proven in studies to help cities economic growth and bring in developers. Lewis said the town area is not disability friendly. Recently the city did a study where each person had a turn to ride in a wheelchair and they saw firsthand the struggles of getting around downtown. After the study the city is wanting to make the downtown area more ADA compliant for handicapped citizens to be able to enjoy. The City and Guho Corp. will be working with the businesses downtown to help minimize the impact as much as possible including having a Guho representative and a city representative to assist businesses with any issues that may come about.
During construction there will be no available parking on the Railroad Park side of Main St. because of the construction zone.
ITD traffic control measures will be in place to help minimize the impact. The city will be releasing updates through social media, their website, the newspaper and newsletters to people who have subscribed to them on the city website to keep everyone up-to-date.