The majority of the Manhattan City Commission favors a new concept for Aggieville that maintains two-way traffic on 12th Street.
The plan also includes a nine-foot paver sidewalk and removal of parking on the east and west side of that road, among other features.
The commission discussed two infrastructure concepts and parking during a work session Tuesday meant to allow commissioners the opportunity to provide feedback about Aggieville plans to city officials and contractors. Commissioners did not take any action during the meeting.
The city has discussed updating Aggieville for several years to improve the overall look of the district. However, officials need to determine a source to pay for the projects.
Commissioners Usha Reddi and Wynn Butler, along with mayor Mike Dodson, expressed their support for Concept 1, which includes 10-foot amenity zones on each side of the street and curbless pavement, which allows for efficient storm drainage. This plan also adds landscaping with trees, native limestone benches, street lights and pedestrian path lighting to Aggieville.
After expressing support for concept 1, Reddi suggested letting businesses decide which concept they liked best.
Incoming Manhattan city commissioner Mark Hatesohl also expressed that he favored concept 1.
Ken Boone with engineering firm Olsson said it is important to keep all the elements and fixtures similar in Aggieville with using the same, native materials, such as limestone.
Along with cosmetic changes, a parking garage, public Wi-Fi and a destination alley are among other amenities included in both plans. Officials also said the district will get improved underground infrastructure, including a new waterline along 12th Street.
On the other hand, commissioner Jerred McKee favored concept 2, which includes one-way traffic on 12th Street and puts most of the amenities on one side of the road. Commissioner Linda Morse said she liked concept 2, but said she didn’t want to advocate for it because she wanted to err on the side of being fair.
Officials plan to present individual costs for sections of the project in February. Officials on Tuesday did not present or indicate any new costs associated with the project.
Previously, Olsson estimated the total cost of the entire Aggieville project coming in at $23 million to $30 million.
Commissioners expressed concerns about how they will pay for these projects since voters denied the sales tax initiative, which would have gone toward paying for Aggieville redevelopment, earlier this month.
However, the commission approved Aggieville moving into a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district earlier this year.
The designation takes tax revenue increases from rising property valuations for improvements in the district. Officials estimated the TIF district would generate $15.2 million to $20.5 million over 20 years.
Commissioners also discussed the parking garage and general parking rules. The Mercury previously reported the parking garage could cost anywhere from $9.5 million to $12.6 million.
Bill Varney of Varney’s Inc. asked the commission to think about installing an accessible entryway in the northwest corner of the garage, so visitors can easily access businesses close to the garage.
Riley County Police Department Director Dennis Butler also asked the commission if the city still planned to house the department’s substation in the parking garage. Commissioners reassured Butler that moving the substation from Moro Street to the parking garage is still in the plans.
Deputy city manager Jason Hilgers said the city anticipates giving 1,800 square feet to 2,000 square feet for RCPD’s substation.
When it comes to general parking in and nearby Aggieville, commissioners discussed the idea of hiring employees who would help with monitor parking.
Wynn Butler and Dodson said they did not favor the idea as it just adds more costs, but Butler expressed he would like to explore raising the price of parking fines.
The proposed parking plan includes some parking on nearby streets, such as Vattier and North 11th Street, ending at 2 a.m., which concerned McKee with the possibility of people driving home while intoxicated. He suggested initiating a parking ending time at midnight to curb that issue.
“I want us to think about that the whole time that we’re thinking about this,” McKee said. “I know the bar part of Aggieville is not the entirety of Aggieville, but it’s a really important aspect when it comes to public health and making sure that people get home safely. So I want to make sure we’re considering all of these aspects when we make a plan like this.”
People will be able to pay for parking via machines when leaving the garage or through an application on their phone.
Reddi asked if a designated Uber pickup/drop off location in Aggieville would be installed after redevelopment. Officials said the city would have to regulate that if they wished to include one as there is no designated spot now.
Commissioners also discussed the Aggieville alley, deemed “Rally Alley.”
“We think the alley could be a destination,” Boone said.
Commissioners looked at concepts of alleys including lights or umbrellas hanging from the top of the alley.
“There are literally thousands of ways we can address that,” Boone continued.
Morse especially liked the idea, she said, and wanted it to be unique to Aggieville.
“We adopted an Aggieville vision plan, and so we’re just been inching up to it and finally we’re there and we have to take some action,” Morse said. “I kinda feel like we’re long on the street and landscape and short on the parking garage detail; but that’s tonight, so in February we will be front and center with all the information.”