News

Buckley council OKs downtown work

Project approved over mayoral objection

By Casey Steiner

The Courier-Herald

Despite adamant opposition by Mayor John Blanusa on pieces of the project, consulting engineer Gray and Osborne was given permission by the Buckley City Council April 12 to seek bids for an improvement project planned for Main Street.

Initial plans had the city seeking bids in March and theoretically breaking ground on the project in June. Given the slight delay, the projected start date for phase one of the project is now June 27 and work is expected to last an estimated 50 days.

The plan is to give Main Street a general "face lift" with new landscaping, wider sidewalks, bulb-outs on street corners, patterned sidewalks and tear drop streetlights. A picture of the conceptual design of Main Street can be found on the city's Web site at www.cityofbuckley.com.

Blanusa strongly believes widening the sidewalks to 10 feet will endanger both drivers and pedestrians. By narrowing the street, sight lines become poor for pedestrians trying to cross the street and for drivers looking out for the pedestrians.

"I know everybody in this city and the people don't want this," Blanusa said. "I have to look out for the people's wishes and try to keep this city safe."

Blanusa also believes the new widened sidewalks will largely go unused. He believes the sidewalks as they are today are basically empty except for a couple eventful days each year.

Some business owners, on the other hand, hope to use the sidewalks for patio seating during the warm months of summer, so the extra space would be used on a more regular basis. Plus, as Councilwoman Beverly Spalding said, the project has already been put through the necessary steps of public discussion. Multiple public hearings have taken place and during a Dec. 1 meeting, a majority vote of Buckley citizens was in favor of the new design.

"We have to move forward on this now if it is going to happen," Spalding said. "We're running out of time."

The city earned grant money to help fund the project and the general feeling is to move forward on the street improvement now, or not at all. With Blanusa standing firmly opposed, the council voted to move forward on the project.

Casey Steiner can be reached at csteiner@courierherald.com.

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