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SSMID board continues to work on improving downtown

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 11:24 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 18, 2013 11:26 a.m. CDT

The newly formed Newton Self Supported Municipal Improvement District made it a priority to improve the downtown area, and in less than four months, the board has already taken the initial steps in cleaning the downtown district’s streets.

Newton Director of Planning and Zoning Erin Chambers, who has been involved with the SSMID board since the start, said it is accepting bids for a two positions.

“One (position) is for a downtown maintenance person to clean sidewalks, sweep, scrape up gum and clean up the gutters on Thursdays and Mondays,” Chambers said. “They also have a request out for a plant maintenance person who (would be responsible) for (maintaining) plants downtown.”

Both positions are part-time contract work, and Chambers said some of the other duties involved in the plant maintenance position would involve fertilizing and weeding of plants in the district.

At the boards first meeting, it was brought up how few trash cans are in the district and the board plans on resolving the issue soon.

“At their meeting last week, they discussed size of trash cans, style (and) location, making sure that they are distributing them amongst the whole district,” Chambers said.

She said trash cans can cost up to $500 per can, and the board is considering many other factors such as existing trash cans.

“We have trash cans already downtown, and the SSMID board wants to be sure that what they choose are consistent in terms of appearance and style to what’s existing,” Chambers said.

She also said the board is considering purchasing larger trash cans, but an issue may be conformity, because the current city’s trash cans are a different size. The board had stated in its first meeting its goal is to improve downtown’s image, and appearance plays a big factor on curb appeal.

In addition, the board is looking at the possibility of installing new bike racks, and Chambers said the board wanted to talk with businesses about the possibly of having a bike rack near their location.

She said the board is looking to work with the Public Works Department in picking out possible locations to install the bike racks, but before any project can be finalized, the board must present its suggestions to the Newton City Council to be approved. This also includes the two aforementioned positions.

Funding can be an issue for many boards, but because of a generous sponsor, the board could begin projects sooner rather than later.

“Renew Newton has pledged to the new board that they will set aside $5,000 if this new board identifies projects that they want to see done in the downtown area. Renew Newton will pay for those purchases or pay for those cost,” Chambers said.

Chambers said she would like to make it clear that Renew Newton did not give the board $5,000, but said it will cover the cost of the proposed projects.

If anyone would like to place a bid on the two positions available, please contact Chambers before April 25th at (641) 792-6622 ext. 25. Chambers also would like to invite any member of the community to attend the board’s public meetings at 1700 N. Fourth Ave. W. and its next meeting is scheduled for May 8 at 7:30 p.m.

Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at mshepard@newtondailynews.com.

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