Front Street to receive facelift

Vincent Marshall
City commissioners approved the first steps toward a revitalization project of Front Street from 3rd Avenue through Central Avenue with input of the community, citizens and business owners in the area.

At the Dodge City Commission meeting on Monday, a contract was approved for the city Downtown Streetscape Project.

The $224,751 project with TranSystems/LK Architecture, of Wichita, will provide a new look for Front Street from 3rd Avenue to Central Avenue from the building face to Wyatt Earp Boulevard, along with 1st Avenue from Wyatt Earp Boulevard to Gunsmoke Street; 2nd Avenue from Front Street to Gunsmoke Street; 3rd Avenue from Wyatt Earp Boulevard to Gunsmoke Street; and Central Avenue from Wyatt Earp Boulevard to Vine Street.

"It will renovate the cityscape and structures of the area," city engineer Tanner Rutschman said. "This has been at the top of the list since the STAR Bond projects began to utilize the proceeds."

The STAR Bond projects have included the expansion of Boot Hill Museum and retail developments along 14th Avenue, including Sutherlands.

Plans for the development had been put on hold at the beginning of the year due to COVID-19.

However, Commissioner Rick Sowers said he felt blindsided by the presentation of the plan and the results of an online survey that was conducted for the citizens of Dodge City who stated the project needed more a western feel to the renovation project for Front Street.

"I would have liked to see where, who and why from the citizens what that detail was and why we (the commissioners) didn't have any input on it," Sowers said. "Our input is probably the most important input."

According to Hernandez, the project will not solely be a city staff project but will include citizens and business owners in Dodge City.

"I feel it will be much better for the citizens at large and individuals in the public," Hernandez said.

Commissioner Kent Smoll added, "You want me to approve $224,000 and it's a change for where we were headed and if we're going to get more of a western feel, what's it look like? Do we know?"

Hernandez said there are four basic concepts that the public has seen as well as comments made from the public during the survey that was conducted.

Representatives with TranSystems/LK Architecture were on hand at the meeting and provided a design concept per Smoll's request.

"We didn't take the decision lightly," Rutschman said. "We had a full committee on the interview team and everybody felt that their presentation and their concept had that wow factor and gave you a sense of place for the downtown and had a good vision of what the downtown could be like."

The timeline would be to go through the discovery phase up to Jan. 1, 2021, then move into the final concept phase. According to Rutschman, the phases would be in those two parts.

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