Farmington talks about Complete Streets

Hannah Grover
Traffic moves Feb. 5 along Main Street in downtown Farmington. Part of a plan to make the district more pedestrian and bicycle friendly has been approved by the City Council.

FARMINGTON – The City Council gave the Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency Commission the OK on Tuesday to spend $250,000 to hire an engineer to draw up plans for a renovation of downtown.

The $250,000 is coming from a fund created for the redevelopment of downtown. The MRA, a city organization that is tasked with redeveloping and revitalizing downtown, has brought in consultants in the past to come up with a conceptual design for the so-called Complete Streets project, which would make Main Street from Auburn Avenue to Miller Street more pedestrian and bicyclist friendly. The conceptual design calls for decreasing the number of lanes, widening sidewalks and turning one side of the street into diagonal parking, while the other side remains parallel parking. It also calls for replacing traffic lights with roundabouts. The term Complete Streets was coined in the early 2000s, and the concepts it espouses have been used all over the country.

The council voted 3-1 in favor of the proposal to hire a consultant to compile the engineering plans for phase one of the project between Orchard Avenue and Miller Avenue. The first phase would include the construction of two roundabouts and require the city to secure land owned by the Taylor family.

Tom Taylor, a former state representative and former mayor, voiced his support of the Complete Streets project during Tuesday's meeting.

"It is my intention to give (the property) to the city," he said. "I'm not going to charge you a dime for a square foot of that."

The additional property that Taylor said he will donate to the city will be used to build a roundabout at the intersection of Miller Avenue and Main Street.

Councilor Mary Fischer voted against the measure after hearing the estimated cost of the project.

Cindy Lopez, the senior planner for the city's community development department, said the entire project is estimated to cost up to $12 million. The MRA currently has about $1.28 million in its fund, and the city sets aside about $500,000 into the fund on an annual basis whenever the city has enough money to do so, according to City Manager Rob Mayes.

"I think now is not the time economically to be embarking on a multi-million-dollar project," Fischer said.

More than a dozen community members attended the council meeting Tuesday to show support for the project.

The intersection of North Orchard Avenue and East Main Street is pictured Feb. 5 in downtown Farmington.

"I think it's time we do something real positive for the downtown," said Paul Martin, who owns Sakura Engineering at 125 W. Main St.

Karen Ellsbury, the owner of the Studio 116 gallery at 116 W. Main St., said the Complete Streets project could also help the local economy by encouraging tourists to visit downtown businesses.

"If we make our city look different, then people will stop," she said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.