Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Phase 2 of Fourth Street project is coming

CDC continues design work for town-revitalization project


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

The two and a half blocks of Fourth Street between Leadville Avenue and the alley between First and Second avenues is next up for a facelift next spring as part of the Fourth Street Heritage Corridor downtown revitalization project.Graphic courtesy CDC Town Design Team

It's the second of three phases, and by early summer downtown Ketchum should be spruced up and ready for the city to host its second Fourth of Fourth celebration.

Construction on the next phase of the Fourth Street Heritage Corridor should commence in April and continue through early July, said Dale Bates, a local architect and chairman of the Ketchum Community Development Corporation Town Design Team.

The CDC is a volunteer community organization working on an array of projects throughout the city. At the close of the organization's first year of operation, the Fourth Street project is an early illustration of how the CDC can work in partnership with the city to plan and implement significant town-revitalization projects.

Bates said in an interview that the Town Design Team, consisting of local architects and designers, donated its design concepts. Such services generally run about 8 percent of a project's construction cost.

Bates said there are three overriding alternatives for the city in the second phase of Fourth Street construction, and those are whether to complete one and a half, two or two and a half blocks, beginning at Leadville Avenue and moving west. The decision will rest on how much of the project fits within the city's $610,000 second-phase budget.

Bates said light posts and sidewalk pavers for the section have already been purchased.

However, the second phase will present a few hurdles not confronted in phase one, which stretched for two blocks between Walnut and Leadville avenues and was completed in July.

The one-block portions of Fourth Street on either side of Main Street (in front of the Coffee Grinder to the east of Main Street and in front of Desperado's to the west) are steep and will require installation of steps, ramps and vertical curbs. The steps will help with winter travel as well as enable children and elderly people to more easily walk the steeper sections of the street. But the steps will be separated, using planter boxes, from ramps that will still enable handicap access.

Also, the Heritage Corridor's intersection with Main Street will be raised with painted crosswalks and include bulbous corners Bates described as "pillows" in order to calm traffic there.

"It's going to be a very visual pattern to slow up traffic," he said.

Also, the second phase will likely include installation of a snowmelt system beneath the sidewalk pavers. Such a system was contemplated for the first phase, but last-minute juggling of numbers dropped it from consideration. That won't happen this time, Bates indicated at a meeting of the Ketchum City Council on Nov. 19.

Bates said project promoters hope the first section of the new Fourth Street Heritage Corridor presented some of the biggest challenges in terms of proving to area residents and business owners that it is worthwhile.

"The major challenge on the first part was the doubt the public had about, one, how it turned out and, two, whether the city would finish," he said.

And the bigger picture is that the new pedestrian-friendly downtown corridor will be a place for a long time to come for the community to gather.

"This is our first civic public place where people can sit and talk with each other without it being in a coffee shop or in a living room," he said. "It's the very basis of democracy, the public square. We're so unaware of it as Americans, how our physical environment impacts our attitudes and perceptions."

There are more details to work out, but Bates said the basics, like the basic design of curbs and sidewalks, are going to engineers for further design this week.




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