New design for Main St. approved
By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor
Oct. 3, 2007 - Sulphur Springs City Council members on Tuesday approved a new design for Main Street that will incorporate trees and brick surfaces, new sidewalks and period lighting.
The plan, developed by a team from a Florida design firm known for creating public spaces, had been recommended for approval by the city's Downtown Revitalization Board.
The estimated cost for the project is $487,000.
Originally, city staff had budgeted about $238,000 to rebuild Main Street. But that didn't include building sidewalks, which the new design does.
The original budget for the project was also calculated during fiscal year 2006. Inflation and ever-accelerating costs for materials also play a role in the higher number. The figure also didn't include redoing T-Bone Alley, or using bricks, or reconstructing intersections, planting trees, period lighting — all of which are worth the extra expense, Maxwell said.
"And you can quote me on that," he said after the meeting.
The design includes a brick street surface.
"Will it last longer than asphalt?" Councilman Gary Spraggins asked.
"If it's done right, it lasts longer," Maxwell said.
Director of Community Development Johnny Vance added that there are a lot of reasons he doesn't like using bricks to pave streets, but there are also reasons that the city, in this instance, might find it favorable to use them.
"It does have a distinctive character," he added.
"It makes for a historical look, doesn't it?" said Councilman Garry Jordan.
Maxwell reiterated that the feel of the bricks reminds motorists they are on a different surface than normal, making them slow down subconsciously, which makes the street safer for pedestrian traffic.
"Not to mention the fact that it looks good," he added.
The new design is part of a bigger plan to reshape the downtown area to attract more customers and business to the central business district.
Vance also said the city will have to set up a system for garbage disposal and other heavy delivery trucks to keep the added weight from causing damage to the brick surface.
"Do we have a lot of trucks that deliver to downtown?" asked Councilman Freddie Taylor.
"We'll have more in the future," Maxwell responded confidently.
The proposed design was approved by a unanimous vote.
The council later approved a request to the Texas Department of Transportation to remove the traffic signals on North Davis Street at Main and Connally streets. The designers of the Main Street plan suggested replacing the lights with stop signs to further slow down traffic.
Maxwell said traffic lights create an unwanted response from motorists who feel the need to speed up to make it through a green or yellow light. Stop signs take away that motivation.
Maxwell said the request is just the first step in a lengthy process. He said if TxDoT agrees, they will put bags over the lights to test the proposal for 90 days, and will take public comment on the subject.
But Maxwell said he doubts there is a true need for stop lights at the intersections.
"City staff believes they were put in for political purposes and weren't really warranted then or now," he said.
NOTES: Craig Vaughn, who oversees the city's wastewater treatment plant, got an ovation for the second straight month after the plant recorded a near-record for treated sewage, with a daily total suspended solids average of 0.78 parts per million — near drinking water quality, Maxwell said ... Sulphur Springs/Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation Director Roger Feagley was appointed to represent the city on the Sulphur River Regional Mobility Authority ... About half of the concrete has been poured at the skate park at Buford Park. Toward the end of the project, skaters will be invited to carve their names in concrete ... The city's animal shelter sent out more dogs and cats than they took in last month — of the 40 animals received, 18 were picked up by their owners, and homes were found for eight others ... Three structures were ordered "abated" — i.e., condemned to be torn down — at 612 Lamar St., 129 Beasley St., and 219 Craig St. ... The council approved a measure that responds to a proposed rate increase by Atmos Energy.