Old Town Burleson is one of the city’s greatest assets, Economic Development Manager Justin Bond told Burleson City Council members during their Feb. 17 workshop session, adding that city staff has developed “an exciting plan” and created a prioritized list of projects they hope to see completed this year.
The possibilities for improvements in the Old Town district are a blessing and a curse for the city, Bond said.
“There are so many things you could do in Old Town to work towards even the plans we have. But at the same time, you have to end up focusing in on what do you do first.”
The project list, with a price tag of about $415,000, targets the part of Old Town bounded by Renfro, Main, Eldred and Warren streets. Bond said that in prioritizing, staffers focused on ways to meet the challenges of upkeep and maintenance in the district’s common areas, more effectively promoting events in the area and improving the flow of traffic and parking availability. It’s about ease of access and identifying the district, he said.
First on Bond’s list were Main Street mobility improvements that included widening sidewalks there by about seven feet, restriping the parking areas, a two-inch asphalt overlay and redirecting traffic to make Main Street one way from Renfro Street to Eldred, then circling back with an egress onto Renfro.
Cost for those projects, Bond said, would be about $125,000.
Also a priority, Bond said, is making improvements to alley ways in Old Town to help improve the flow of pedestrian traffic and encourage visitors to park in other, nearby parking lots rather than trying to crowd into the limited parking on Main Street.
This project includes improving sidewalks and curb ramps from Burleson City Hall to Ellison Street, paving, adding mid-block crossings, lighting and street furniture, along with improved landscaping and alley gateway features. Price tag for these changes, Bond said, would be about $150,000.
Two of the less expensive but perhaps more easily noticeable improvements staff members recommend is to replace or refurbish the light poles and banners in Old Town, and replacing existing street signs there with more decorate options that would perhaps include district identifiers. Bond said that the 62 light poles in the district need to be repainted and then fitted with consistent brackets that will hold banners designed to identify the district or promote special and annual events. Cost for those elements, he said, would be about $26,160.
Replacing existing street signs with more decorative options intended to help identify Old Town as a special district of the city would cost about $19,680, Bond said. He added that the city could replace existing sign poles with more decorative poles, as well, but that doing so would add to the cost.
Bond told council members that staff has recommended spending about $6,000 for signs and sign poles to help direct visitors to nearby parking areas. He said that there are about 225 parking spaces on Main Street, and another 175 available in lots around city hall.
“Right now, we don’t do a good job of directing people to other lots instead of just parking on Main Street,” Bond said. “These signs will be fairly inexpensive but very useful.”
Also on the list of priority projects is repairing, replacing and adding landscaping along Ellison Street between city hall and Main Street. Doing so, Bond said, would not only improve the appearance of the area, but would also help direct foot traffic and make it easier for pedestrians to get from one place to the other.
Estimated cost for the landscaping work is about $65,000. Bond also suggested the city spend about $7,200 for trash cans in Old Town.
The final financial piece of the priority projects calls for the city to budget about $16,000 annually for ongoing maintenance, such as installing banners and changing them out to promote specific events, street and sidewalk sweeping, trash pickup and landscape maintenance.
Bond also said he would like to see the new banners and street and parking signage installed in time for the start of the annual Hot Sounds of Summer concert series, which kicks off Memorial Day weekend.
Bond said the money to pay for the proposed projects could come from a combination of mobility bonds approved by the voters last November, Old Town Tax Increment Financing funds and hotel/motel funds. After questions from some council members on allowable uses for TIF and hotel/motel funds, Bond said he would research options and bring the matter back to the council in March.