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Makeover in historic shopping area may include more costly historic lampposts

The West Linn City Council meeting Aug. 5 featured plenty of fireworks, but one thing that all of the councilors agreed on was that the Historic Willamette Main Street and 10th St. Interchange Streetscape project is a worthy use of the 2018 general obligation (GO) bond funds. PMG FILE PHOTO - The streets and sidewalks of Willamette will look very different once a planned remake is completed.

According to the proposed plan, parking would be reconfigured, sidewalks would be widened to accommodate additional pedestrians and outdoor seating for businesses, a wider bike lane would be introduced, and the road would be repaved, among other changes and improvements.

However, many West Linn residents have called for an addition to these plans: historically accurate street lighting based on the lampposts currently seen in front of the decommissioned Bolton Fire Station.

But this detail would come at a significant cost. An estimate from West Linn Public Works director and streetscaping project manager Lance Calvert comes in at around $500,000 to install the custom lighting, as well as to move the power lines from overhead to alleyways, where they would be out of the way and less obtrusive.

An alternate plan would involve moving the power lines underground, which would likely come in at over $1 million.

Either of these plans would be in addition to the $3 million allocated to the Main Street streetscaping fund, which is coming out of the GO bond funds.

According to Calvert, the Transportation Advisory Board unanimously recommended the alley option, and all members of the City Council sounded receptive toward that idea, especially considering that the additional costs would largely be covered by a newly discovered $400,000 that has come from interest from the GO bond. The $100,000 difference would be comparatively easy to make up.

The council and the mayor were in agreement that the historical lights would be a good use of GO bond funds, though they wanted more time to discuss it.

Regarding the question of the historic lights, Axelrod said "very much yes," but added, "let's do it right."

He insisted that the city council discuss the plan further and make sure everything is solid before moving forward, even if it means possibly delaying the project a year until 2021. This idea drew vocal support from Councilor Rich Sakelik.

Calvert cautioned that a delay may result in additional cost for the project, and Councilor Jules Walters brought the point forward that delaying too long could cause construction, which is projected to begin in January 2020, to continue into the summer months.

This would potentially harm local businesses, which would have reduced amounts of outdoor space during construction.

Walters insisted that the City Council attempt to stay on schedule with the planned construction schedule, which would begin in January. That plan has paving and street marking scheduled to be concluded in June 2020, before getting too far into the summer months.

The Council largely agreed that a delay would not be ideal, but also that the topic warranted further consideration and public comment. The council gave unanimous thumbs-up approval to dedicating City Council work session time in September to considering this issue, with the goal of finalizing the plan and getting it approved for construction in January.

As they announced it, multiple people in the crowded gallery stood and clapped.

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