RACINE — City officials hope a proposed redesign for Monument Square and Downtown parking and traffic will be wrapped up by August so that the recommendations can be incorporated into the city’s 2020 budget.
The City Council’s Finance and Personnel Committee is sending Purchasing Agent Kathy Kasper’s recommendation to hire Madison-based Toole Design Group to the full council next week with a recommendation to approve.
Kasper said the city received 14 responses to the request for proposals which were whittled down to the top three by a committee consisting of Mayor Cory Mason, City Administrator Jim Palenick, City Development Director Amy Connolly, Transit and Parking Director Mike Maierle, City Engineer John Rooney and Dave Kamm, chairman of the Downtown Racine Corp. The top three applicants were brought in for interviews and the committee ultimately decided on Toole.
Why so soon?
Alderman Natalia Taft of the 13th District asked why the city has decided to re-design Monument Square. Monument Square was renovated to its current design in 2005 for $1.5 million.
Kasper said the city had already planned to redesign parking and traffic Downtown to make it more pedestrian-friendly. The square would be affected by changes to traffic and parking and many felt its current design does not allow it to be fully utilized.
Mason said officials had budgeted for each item separately but decided they would receive a better result by having all three projects under one bid.
“To use three different contractors that wouldn’t be talking to each other, would be a missed opportunity to coordinate all those things,” the mayor said.
Travel adviser Roger Brooks, during a visit to Racine, had advised the city to prioritize redesigning Monument Square.
“Your plaza has to be about people,” Brooks wrote in his report. “Right now this space is pretty, but unused, because there are no benches or things to do. It could easily be converted into an active space that people like to use and spend their free time.”
DRC Executive Director Kelly Kruse spoke in January about what the redesign could mean for Downtown Racine.
“We would like to see a permanent stage, more trees and green space, multiple seating areas and public bathrooms,” Kruse said. “These are just a few of the ways we could enhance Monument Square and make it more functional and enjoyable for year-round programming.”
The budget for the design is $50,000 for Monument Square and $150,000 for parking and traffic for a total of $200,000. No estimates have yet been provided for the potential construction.
The City Council is scheduled to vote on the recommendation to hire Toole Design Group at its meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21, at City Hall, 730 Washington Ave., Room 205.