Public to see revisions for renewal plan

Revitalization ideas will be unveiled, discussed tonight

Cost estimated at $750,000

Proposal includes creating town square, leveling sidewalks

July 17, 2000|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Revisions to an ambitious plan to beautify Union Bridge will be presented at a public meeting tonight at the town Community Center.

The proposals include a town square, new sidewalks, a unified business district, public parking and benches, and the tidying of utility lines, mailboxes and parking meters.

Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr. and Joan McKee, who heads the Union Bridge Revitalization Committee, said they hope the community will turn out for the meeting and respond to the plan.

"From what I've seen so far, I think it's going to be very attractive for the town, and hopefully, it's going to be what the people of the town would like to see happen," Jones said. "It's going to make it a very nice business area and entranceway to the town."

The presentation, which begins at 7 p.m., will be given by representatives of the State Highway Administration and the consulting firm Whitney Bailey Cox and Magnani LLP of Baltimore.

About two dozen people attended a meeting in April to outline a preliminary plan, and their suggestions have been incorporated into the final proposal to be reviewed tonight, said Deepa Srinivasan, director of planning for the consulting firm, which has been working with the committee for months.

In response to the suggestions, Srinivasan said, the new plan reduces the number of proposed crosswalks on Main Street (Route 75) from seven to two: at Elger Street, and at Broadway.

At Broadway, she said, "We're proposing a town square - something to serve as a symbolic center of town."

Ideas include a statue or obelisk on its southeast corner to draw visitors from the railroad museum uphill toward the shops. Merchants would be encouraged to make their hours more uniform.

The revisions also include eliminating previously proposed curb extensions - called bump-outs - that reduce the road width to slow traffic.

Srinivasan said other recommendations include making the town's uneven curb heights as uniform as possible, adding landscaping, and using pressed concrete in the core of town that can be colored and patterned to look like brick or stone.

Utility wires would be bundled, mailboxes moved back and parking meters doubled up to reduce clutter. Some parallel parking is proposed, with more public parking on private lots or at the Western Maryland Railway museum.

The plan would divide the town into three major areas: the peripheral residential area to the south; the core area of shops, town offices and the train museum; and a light-industrial area at the entrance to town, she said.

Preliminary estimates, divided into four geographical stages, place the total cost of the proposed changes at roughly $750,000.

Once a plan is accepted, the town would have to compete with others around the state for grant money for the revitalization work, the mayor said.

"You're just going to have to keep applying every time there are grants available," said Jones, whose administration has been successful in obtaining state and federal funds.

A previously obtained grant for new road-and-rail spur to get traffic off Main Street has been delayed slightly but is expected to be put out for contractors' bids soon, with construction to begin early next year.

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