The Monument Square Streetscape Project has been an important project for the Planning and Development Department since 2004. The streetscape improvements identified in the project are part of a three-phase strategy to make downtown Lewistown more inviting to people both in the daytime and at night. The project will also serve as a catalyst to enhance the economic vitality in the downtown area.
In February 2005, PennDOT officially notified Mifflin County that Phase I of the Monument Square Streetscape Project will be funded by the Home Town Streets program. On February 21, 2005, Governor Edward Rendell presented the county’s award of $481,850 to local residents and officials at the Historic Courthouse. Phase I will include sidewalks, street trees, street lighting, crosswalks, benches, planters, and outdoor café areas. In May 2005, a kickoff meeting for Phase I of the project was held, and the project history and the three phases were discussed.
Phase II of the project builds upon the first phase and includes planters and other enhancements not completed in Phase I, improvements around “Monument Island”, and replacing vehicular pavement in the square area. Phase II was discussed at a public meeting held on July 26, 2005 in anticipation of the September 2005 deadline for the second application for Home Town Streets funding. Extensive efforts were made to disseminate public information prior to the meeting including invitations to all veteran groups in Mifflin County. Many of the 200 people in attendance expressed opposition to proposed changes to Monument Island. As a result of the meeting, improvements in the island area were reduced to replacing the curbing and lighting. A follow-up meeting with stakeholders to discuss Phase I and modified plans for Phase II was held on September 20, 2005.
During PennDOT’s review of the Phase II application in November 2005, some concerns were raised, and the colorized vehicular pavement was determined not eligible under the Home Town Streets Program guidelines. In December 2005, the SEDA-COG Regional Transportation Advisory Committee recommended to PennDOT that the original proposal be modified to remove the colorized concrete pavement, which lowered the project cost to $173,100. The recommendation for approval to PennDOT also suggested that Phases I and II be developed together. Final approval from the State Transportation Commission (STC) is anticipated in April or May of 2006. Project construction is expected to begin during the summer of 2006.
During the next round of Home Town Streets Program funding, Mifflin County anticipates seeking funding for Phase III of the Monument Square Streetscape Project. Phase III of the project would extend the project design from Monument Square to the four adjoining streets for a distance of one block.