FARMINGTON — Farmington City Council approved an item that will encourage pedestrian traffic during its Tuesday night meeting and listened to testimony about how it could revitalize the city.
On its consent agenda the council approved a bid of more than $540,000 to link sidewalk connections in the areas of Butler Avenue, Pinon Hills Boulevard, College Boulevard, Farmington Avenue and English Drive. Farmington-based TRC Construction, Inc. won the bid, and a Federal Highway Administration grant will fund 75 percent of the project's cost.
Mayor Tommy Roberts and the rest of the council requested that city staff draft a resolution to support the Four Corners Power Plant's efforts to get approval to continue its operation. "I believe this is an effort the city of Farmington needs to support, from the perspective of maintaining high-paying jobs in our community," he said.
Officials from Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, Inc., a business that promotes ways to boost the health of a community through better-built environments, also spoke to the council about a concept knows as complete streets. They also made a presentation on Tuesday to Aztec city commissioners.
"We're basically conveniencing ourselves to death," said Robert Ping, the business's technical assistance program manager.
Complete streets is a concept to redesign roads, sidewalks, parking lots and business fronts to encourage people to walk, bike or skateboard — anything, Ping said, to encourage exercise. The concept also promotes faster and safer car or truck traffic through a city or town.
Ping clicked through a slideshow with pictures of California cities where the concept was implemented. Wide roads were narrowed and narrow sidewalks were widened. Trees were planted along sidewalks and in new roundabouts. Side-street storefronts and angled parking spaces replaced sprawling parking lots. Grassy medians were built.
Ping said many methods exist to increase walking in a city.
"If we plan for cars and traffic," he said, "we get cars and traffic."
After hearing Ping's presentation, Councilors Gayla McCulloch and Nate Duckett said they were sold. Roberts said the concept could be used in a downtown redevelopment.
"What is the (Metropolitan Planning Organization) doing to deal with this in a tangible way?" he asked Community Development Associate Planner Fran Fillerup, who sat in the audience.
The MPO created an advisory board to write guidelines for use when developing the city, Fillerup said.
The initial focus with complete streets should be in the city's downtown, Roberts said, but the city needs to find investors and others with resources to first accept a complete streets plan.
Ping said partnerships are important, but a plan will sit on a shelf unless it is embraced by the city.