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Stormwater demonstration at top of new CRA wishlist

By Staff | Dec 15, 2012

With the city council now in control of the Community Redevelopment Agency, it has to decide what their priorities are, and those are just now starting to come into focus.

Acting CRA Executive Director (and city manager) John Szerlag presented a transition plan to the committee during Wednesday’s CRA meeting, which assigned certain projects to staff and prioritized those projects.

And while some projects, such as Big John’s Plaza’s parking lot, were put on hold until more money is available, others, like the Stormwater Pilot Demonstration Project, were pushed to the front of the line.

Still, without a lot of Tax Increment Financing money coming in, this CRA will be hard-pressed to do many massive projects in the near-future.

“Without funds you can’t do much of anything. The impetus behind the change was to preserve the fund balance so that the money will eventually be directed back to the CRA,” city spokesperson Connie Barron said. “It’s time for the CRA to evaluate the plan and what might be done or put on the shelf.”

The stormwater demonstration project, CRA co-chair and Councilmember Marty McClain said, could be the most important facet of the new CRA initiative, adding he’s surprised it took this long to do it.

“It’s been in the works for years and the demonstration area will be identified soon. Staff believes it will be put together in February or March,” McClain said. “This should have been a top item. I’m excited to get it moving.”

It could also make building downtown a much less expensive proposition. Walgreen’s reportedly spent $300,000 in understructure storage to make the building work where it is.

McClain also said one of the priority projects would be to improve the medians to remove vegetation and replace them with pavers to make it easier to cross.

“We’re not creating crosswalks and people aren’t going to walk to an intersection,” McClain said. “The pavers would make it safer for people to cross rather than stumble on vegetation.”

Among the other plans for the new CRA include retaining the services of attorney Frank Schnidman for services rendered.

As for Big John’s which was made a centerpiece of the old CRA, it will have to wait, apparently.

“The CRA needs to address Big John’s and if it needs to be done,” Barron said.

Also, most alleys and roadways will not be worked on for now, unless it is a major road in definite need of repair. Sidewalks will also be repaired on an emergency basis.