New downtown on the horizon

Our City
A.F. Mayor Marc Beitia

Looking forward to the next five months I am filled with a sense of excitement and a bit of apprehension. As I have been in this position almost 11 months I can say without equivocation that it has been hugely enlightening and rewarding. There have been the times during the last seven and a half years where I have wondered, “What if we could?” Those have turned out to be the rewarding parts of all my time with the city; that ability of former Mayor Amy Manning, the city council, city employees and citizens of American Falls to come together with a common vision and determine not “what if we could” but “we can.”

After decades of talking and trying a new downtown is on the immediate horizon. After months of public input from the citizens’ advisory committee, numerous design modifications and the perils that come with working with five funding sources the city council voted unanimously in its special meeting Friday, May 24, to award the construction of the Downtown Revitalization project to Depatco, a company from St. Anthony. Once all the paperwork is in order and with any luck we will have our pre-construction meeting by June 14, with construction to begin by June 19. As things get more solidified with Depatco we will keep you informed as to timelines and construction meetings that will impact specific businesses and streets during the project.

A few other items came from the May 24 meeting that I believe will make sense to many. After hearing public input through three different council meetings the city council will most likely vote at next Wednesday’s general recessed meeting to take no action on the proposed ordinance change that would ban parking on the 300 block of Harrison Street. The council also authorized me to negotiate a change order with Depatco that would leave the footprint of that block as it is today, eliminating the landscape strip on the south side of the street in the current design. I commend the council on the thoughtfulness with which they deliberated your input on both these issues. I personally would like to thank those who choose to voice their opinion and take part in the process.

As all things eventually end up downhill, or downstream in this case, the new wastewater treatment plant is on budget and ahead of schedule. This is largely due to the efforts of the project’s engineers at Keller Associates and the general contractor RSCI, and in no small part to Superintendent Pete Cortez and City Clerk Robyn Herndon. The new plant is scheduled to begin clean water startup within the next two months.

Two other projects in the works include the continuation of our Safe Routes to School project and the new Skate Board Park. Construction on the Safe Routes project began May 29 and will include five blocks of curb, gutter and sidewalk. The Skate Board Park should be usable by the time school starts in the fall with final designs due to Superintendent Jeremy Peirsol within the next few days. The city is extremely thankful to all of those who donated money, time and effort to make the skate park a reality; seven years ago as I sat on the city council as a new member it seemed like pie in the sky. I do like pie, especially when it is on the plate in front of me.

The city’s new website became active last week and it certainly has a new face and feel. Go to http://www.cityofamericanfalls.com to check it out. When you get there you will notice certainly the new face but look under the Home tab on the left and you will find a tab titled city projects; it is here that we will include important updates as we work toward the completion of all of our projects.

Please come join us at the First Annual Idaho Outdoor Recreational Swap Meet on June 8, at Willow Bay from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information please see the event website at http://idahooutdoorswapmeet.com.

Until next week…

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