Downtown project must be a priority in 2008

As they look back on 2007, city officials have to be pleased with many things that they saw within the past year, including the continued development of Vandalias western Interstate 70 interchange.

But, as they reflect, Mayor Rick Gottman, City Administrator Jimmy Morani, Director of Economic Development JoAnn Givens and Vandalia aldermen also need to be looking at some projects looming in the future.

At the top of the list is the effort to revitalize the downtown business district.

To date, the city has been unsuccessful in its attempts to lure contractors for the streetscape and infrastructure improvements along Gallatin Street.

The citys Downtown Advisory Committee passed a recommendation onto the city councils streets and sewers committee in December, but the committee declined to present that recommendation to the full council at its Dec. 17 meeting.

The advisory committee is recommending that the city bid out the streetscape and improvement facets of the project separately, and also that it scale back the streetscape work by one, if not two, blocks.

This project is the most important part of the citys plan to enhance the downtown business district. Thats a significant challenge, what with many developers’ interest in locating at or near one of the citys two I-70 interchanges, as well as the long-range plans of creating and developing a third interchange.

The city has the challenge of luring commercial prospects to the downtown, while at the same time, considering that it may need to consider working with building owners interested in renovating their structures for residential use.

The downtown business district, obviously, needs to be a priority for city officials in 2008.

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