Residents’ insights requested

By: Michelle Miller-Carl Journal News Editor
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The Auburn City Council discussed establishing a committee to further develop themes along the city’s Streetscape route Tuesday. At Tuesday night’s workshop of the Auburn Development Authority, Auburn residents also got a chance to ask questions and give input on the city’s plans to beautify a one-mile stretch of road from Old Town to Downtown. A Streetscape History and Art Advisory Committee (SHAAC) would develop a selection process for a history walk and artwork featured throughout the Streetscape area. Mayor Mike Holmes suggested a nine-member committee that would consist of members of the Old Town and Downtown Business associations, the historic society, arts commission, endurance capital committee, Chamber of Commerce, and three at-large community members. “I want to ensure the entire community is involved in the process,” Holmes said. Members of the public suggested an even larger committee with more points of view. While no action was taken, staff will recommend this option to the authority at a future meeting. Bud Rietjens, 67, of Auburn said he liked the idea of committee. “I think in this meeting, they realized that the citizens feel left out and not a part of this,” he said. “I understand the council’s problem in trying to get people to come in, but I can’t remember ever being asked to be a part of a committee.” Councilman Bill Kirby rejected the notion that the public doesn’t have opportunities to give input. “I think we have a real issue in getting the community involved,” he said during the workshop. “You don’t have to be a committee member to have your voice heard. People have to make the decision to be involved.” Tuesday’s workshop was called after an original proposal to have tiles etched along a endurance-sports-themed “walk of fame” was made to the City Council in a meeting Aug. 24. At the meeting, members of the public spoke both for and against the proposal, with some citing a lack of public input on the plan. Construction on the first phase of Streetscape will move forward and tiles will have to be etched on site at a later date, once it is determined what would be on them. This will be more expensive, but costs could be built into a future phase of Streetscape, said City Manager Bob Richardson. Richardson also took questions from the around 25 attendees after presenting a timeline of how Streetscape came to be. The first phase of Streetscape is currently underway at the intersection of Lincoln Way and High Street. The $2 million project will turn the area into an outdoor plaza with public artwork, planter boxes, benches, commemorative tiles, a fire pit, living Christmas tree and more. The entire project includes nine phases, which would be completed as funding becomes available.