Surveys complete; detailed drawings next

Published 9:58am Monday, June 9, 2014

Various colored arrows, x’s, o’s and other shapes have recently appeared on downtown streets and parking spaces. The hieroglyphic-style markings are the result of survey work involving easement research, utility location and topographical study.

Those surveys are part of the preparation for beginning long-awaited improvements to the downtown Wetumpka area.

“The city has been working with the Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission to meet a list of conditions, including environmental clearances from state and federal agencies, all prerequisite for finalizing the grant agreement and the release of grant funds,” said David Robison, Wetumpka’s planning and program director. “The conditions clearing process took a little longer than expected because the U.S. Corps of Engineers required us to complete a jurisdictional delineation to verify the project wouldn’t impact the river, but all conditions have been met.”

Earlier this year, a concept plan for redevelopment and revitalization in the downtown and riverfront areas was completed and approved by the city council. The firm of Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood was selected as the project engineer.

“The engineers will use the surveys and the recently adopted downtown plan to prepare detailed construction drawings,” said Robison. “These drawings will be presented to the public for review and comment some time this summer.”

Robison explained that the initial work – expected to begin this fall – will be subsurface improvements involving water lines, sewers and storm sewers.

“Right now that construction is estimated to be completed before next spring,” he said. “But that is a best-case scenario. That time line could change depending on what the contractors find when they break ground – there could be abandoned utilities or other things.”

Surface construction should start in late spring or early summer in 2015.

“The area is going to look worse before it looks a lot better,” Robison said. “We just ask that residents bear with us throughout this process.”

The overall plan calls for the addition of trees and other landscape features, improvements to street intersections, strategies to make the area more pedestrian friendly, working with building owners toward filling retail spaces and offering upper-floor residences and numerous other changes.

Robison pointed out that current zoning designations for the area allow for upper-floor apartments and the Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission has a revolving loan grant for facade renovations.

“There are tax credits available for renovations in the historic district,” he said. “We have links to CARPDC and information about tax credits on our website as well as a map of the historic district.”

Robison said three major funding sources have been secured to date:

•A $450,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for infrastructure. Those monies will be used to rehabilitate or replace obsolete storm water, water and sewer facilities. The City of Wetumpka and the Wetumpka Water Works will each furnish $200,000 in matching funds.

•A $377,000 Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant to improve street scapes and sidewalks on East Bridge Street from South Main to Hill, Court Street and possibly Hill Street from East Bridge to Orline. The city will provide a $94,000 match for the grant.

•A nearly $1 million DOT project that will be used to improve street scapes and sidewalks on Company Street and resurface roadways throughout the area.

The city’s downtown redevelopment effort began in late 2011 with an overall plan completed in 2012 and adopted in January 2013 which focused on broad planning principals, catalyst projects and precedents from other locations. The current concept plan is the result of citizen input during several public meetings, research data and on-site visits.

The complete plan can be viewed online at Visitors should click on “Downtown Redevelopment” in the lefthand bar, then click on Wetumpka Downtown and Riverfront Redevelopment Plan (Final Draft) under the Documents heading.

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