Council Postpones Downtown Redevelopment Decision

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Topeka City Council deferred a vote on proposed redevelopment plans for downtown Tuesday, giving the community time to review the multimillion dollar project at a public meeting Dec. 6.

The council plans to vote on the proposed project, which totals almost $8.5 million, on Dec. 11. The plan focuses on the area above and below Kansas Avenue from 6th to 9th streets.

Council members said Tuesday deferring a decision on the project will give Topekans an opportunity to better understand what the project entails.

"There will be a formal way verbally and otherwise for people to turn in their public comments so that when the council comes back to vote on the 11th of December, it's been vetted just as fully as we can and we're fully informed in order to vote," said Councilwoman Karen Hiller.

When the council last deferred action in July, it was unclear what public money and private money would go toward.

Now the council is ready to present drawings, plans and financial information to the public.

"The council is eager to look and understand penny for penny what the proposal is and exactly what the design details are and the public is welcome to join us in that," Hiller said.

There are two layers to the Kansas Avenue facelift.

The first layer is infrastructure, which includes improvements underneath the street as well as sidewalks and curbs above it.

The second is enhancements, such as statues and info kiosks, to be funded by private sector donations.

"The city's primary responsibility is infrastructure, so to make sure that's done and it's done before we lay the new street pavement over, so tthat we do it once and do it right," Hiller added.

A public meeting to give information and get comments on the downtown plan is set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6 in the council chambers.

The meeting will be televised, but the council urges people to be at the meeting in person to voice opinions and suggestions easier.

Hiller said people can also contact City Manager Jim Colson's office with questions, or visit www.topeka.org/citymanager.

So far the only public money spent was $208,000 for initial planning.


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