Wetumpka’s downtown redevelopment plan is close to becoming a tangible reality but is a little behind schedule. The $1.3 million four-phase streetscape project that began in July and was supposed to be completed by Christmas is still in Phase 3.
The phases were originally predicted to take three to four weeks each. Officials aren’t exactly sure when the project will wrap up but Phase 3 is expected to be complete by the end of December, according to Wetumpka city clerk Tiffany Robinson.
Crews are still trucking along and the last phase is in the bidding process. Despite the delay, officials know the work will be worth it when it is completed.
“I know there have been plans before, but I think this time it is going to go beyond just being something on paper,” Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis said. “Our (Highway) 231 corridor is all business, but there’s a uniqueness and a quaintness to our downtown that will present itself really well in everything new we’re trying to do.
Phases include updating underground infrastructure throughout downtown; work on South Main Street leading to East Bridge Street; work on East Bridge, Hill, Company streets; and a adding a roundabout where Company, Spring and Orline streets meet.
The work includes new concrete and brick sidewalks, repaved roads, metal benches and trash cans, updated street lights and poles and the planting of trees.“Downtown is so suited to the events and different activities we have here,” Willis said. “That charm and uniqueness works well with what the closeness that’s part of the festivals held downtown.”
Wetumpka’s 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.According to Robinson, the project has been funded through the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) which is a list of transportation projects developed by the Montgomery Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
According to documents posted at www.montgomerympo.org, Wetumpka received $1,184,344 in federal grant money to fund the improvements from 2016 to 2019, and the city has projects estimated at $784,579 included in TIP for 2020 to 2023.
“Right now, to this point the engineering and design has been done through the four phases,” Robinson said. “We’ve already applied and been approved for the funding. We’re just going through the process of trying to finish it out.
“It takes vision and someone willing to step out and implement programs like Main Street Wetumpka, the Wetumpka Downtown Redevelopment Authority, redeveloping the building where Coosa Cleaver is located. This has just been a conglomeration of things.”