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County gets $80,000 grant for Central Avenue

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By Jennifer Garcia

Improvements to Central Avenue continue to take shape.

Sidewalks were recently re-done and thanks to a supplemental special appropriation from the New Mexico Main Street Program, a new public address system, kiosks and a banner will soon be purchased and installed on Central Avenue.

Executive Director of Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation Kevin Holsapple and Public Works Department Project Manager Betsy Lucido were in council chambers during Monday night's meeting to present a briefing on the additional Central Avenue Streetscape Project Improvements.

After a vote, council approved a motion accepting the New Mexico Main Street Award of $80,000. The motion passed 7-0.

According to county documents, in August 2008 the County was notified by New Mexico Main Street that a supplemental special appropriation was available and they were seeking projects for funding consideration.

At a special council meeting on Aug. 21, Council passed Resolution No. 08-13, supporting the partnership between Los Alamos County and Los Alamos MainStreet.

This resolution was a precursor to the submittal of an application responding to the New Mexico MainStreet Program announcing additional funding. The county and LACDC Main Street submitted an application requesting a total of $300,000 in additional funds.

In particular, the supplemental application requested monies for Knecht Street, pedestrian way finding enhancement, public address system and street banner enhancement, all labeled as Phase 2 of the Central Avenue Streetscape project.

On Sept. 2 the county was notified by the New Mexico Main Street Program that it was awarded $80,000 to be used as follows: Pedestrian way finding enhancement (kiosks), wireless public address system and street banner enhancement (consisting of two structural poles placed on Central Avenue that could support a banner announcing various downtown events). The funds are required to be expended no later than May 2009.

During the presentation, Holsapple expressed his appreciation to council for the support they have shown in this project. He said the kiosks are something that have been long desired by merchant businesses in the community.

The idea is to provide pedestrians and visitors with some direction and it is also a way to know where the businesses are located.

The plans for the kiosks include a three-sided design, which will feature a business directory on one side and current events on the second side, while the third side will feature art or a graphic that will catch the attention of passersby.

An over-the-street banner will also be purchased and installed as part of the Central Avenue project. “It serves to tell people and inform people of what is going on and about the things that will be happening downtown,” Holsapple said.

In addition, the public address system will be used during parades and other events on Central Avenue. Holsapple pointed out that it can also be used to pipe holiday music throughout downtown for shoppers.

Councilor Nona Bowman asked Holsapple about who will be responsible for maintaining the kiosks. “I think this is a great idea. But whos going to be changing the kiosks? I hate a cluttered kiosk or one that has information that has already happened,” she said. Holsapple said that his organization will take on the kiosk maintenance and the business directory will be changed as business information changes.

Councilor Fran Berting wanted to know how far the county could stretch their main street dollars and whether the money could be used for a sign as visitors are coming in to town, that would indicate where the visitor center is.

“There are signs on Trinity,” Holsapple said. “When you look at it, the funding proposal is for four kiosks, so I think we really have to look at one area where there might be a little money and that part is aimed at pedestrian enhancements.” Councilor Michael Wheeler agreed with Berting when he said, “I think Fran hit on an important topic, which is signage. Weve got to improve these signs. We need signs that a person in a car can’t miss. Europe copied what American did 50 years ago and now were going back trying to copy Europe because they make signs that a person in a car can see. I’d like to see improvement there.”

The kiosks have not yet been built, but plans are underway to get that done. In addition, bids for poles to hold the banner will be solicited. The county will purchase the poles and hire a contractor to install them.