City unveils new project headquarters at downtown storefront

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FARMINGTON — The city of Farmington unveiled new headquarters for the Complete Streets construction project on Tuesday at an open house and project update. 

Local officials and downtown business owners met at the headquarters at 119 W. Main St. to talk about parking options for a major remodel of West Main Street. City officials also gave an update on the cost of the project.

Assistant city manager Julie Baird said the project is about 25 percent through the design phase and that a decision about parking design “is the thing that’s holding us up from moving forward on design.” 

The city is considering two parking designs. One has back-in angled parking and parallel parking on alternating sides of the street throughout West Main Street. Another has pull-in acute-angle parking on both sides of the street.  

Art Garcia — senior engineer with Occam Engineers Inc., the company that the city is contracting with for the project — discussed advantages and disadvantages of the two options. 

Back-in parking would make it relatively easy for motorists to pull back out into traffic safely and would reduce their chances of hitting a cyclist in the bike lanes. But the design would require drivers to stop traffic to park, essentially the same as parallel parking, Garcia said.

 

With acute-angle parking, the issue lies with having to wait for a gap in traffic to back out, but drivers would not have to back out as far into traffic because of the angled design, Garcia said. The design would also align vehicles so that car doors would not line up, making more usable space between vehicles.

Acute-angle parking would allow for fewer parking spaces than back-in angle parking, but Garcia said either option would afford more spaces than the current parallel parking design. Acute-angle parking is at a 22.5-degree angle, while the back-in angled parking would be at a 45-degree or 60-degree angle. 

Other parking issues brought up at the open house included the effect of long truck beds hanging over the sidewalk and safer trunk access with back-in parking, and the potential of visibility issues for compact cars between large vehicles while pulling back into traffic with acute-angle parking.

 

City officials took an informal tally at the open house, and Baird said the Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency Commission will discuss the issue at its meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday in the Executive Conference Room at 800 Municipal Drive before bringing it to the City Council.

“As much momentum as we’re gaining right now, please realize that construction is still several months off, so don’t panic,” Baird said. “We still have some time to talk about how we’re going to do it, how the timing is going to occur and how to get areas down here prepared, but we don’t feel like we are starting too early with that.”

 

West Main Street renovations should cost the city about $9.4 million, according to City Manager Rob Mayes, with the following breakdown:

• $600,000 for electrical upgrades and infrastructure with funding from Farmington Electrical Utility Services.

• $2.8 million for water line replacement and restructuring with funding from a Farmington Water and Wastewater Utilities renewal and replacement fund. Mayes said that work would be done regardless of the project.

• $6 million on downtown revitalization with funding from bond refinancing for the city’s general fund.

“The payment to the general fund will stay essentially the same as it is now, we’re just extending the debt,” Mayes said. “We’re not adding to the incremental cost to the general fund, but we really think we’ll see the trade-off in this.”

Mayes also said the electric and water systems would have been upgraded regardless of the revitalization project.

 

Both Mayes and Farmington Mayor Tommy Roberts emphasized that the project is a significant investment, both for the city and for downtown businesses, especially with the burden of construction, which several attendees addressed during the open house.

“We all have to bear in mind that anytime a project of this magnitude takes place, there are going to be some inconveniences,” Roberts said. “This office (at 119 W. Main St.) has been established to try to mitigate many of those problems and to smooth the way to deal with those issues that you might experience in the coming years as property owners and business owners.”

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4621. 

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