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Rambling River Plaza redesign plans back on track

Plans are moving forward to redesign the Rambling River Plaza in downtown Farmington.

City Council had tabled the topic in November when business owners expressed concern that a redesign would eat up valuable parking space behind the Third Street businesses.

But after more discussions, the city has approved a contract with Hoisington Koegler Group Inc. to develop a concept for the plaza.

"City Council ... directed staff to reach out to the businesses surrounding this area of downtown to gauge the level of support prior to doing additional design work," said Adam Kienberger, community development director.

"Staff met with the majority of businesses and received enthusiastic feedback along with thoughtful suggestions for moving forward with additional design work and a project construction estimate," he said.

The plaza — which essentially is a parking lot — is often used during big events, such as Dew Days, to house food trucks and a large tent. It sits behind several Third Street shops, and doesn't offer much for aesthetics.

Space is something people asked for when the city was designing its downtown redevelopment plan, Kienberger said. The plan addresses vacant and underutilized sites, adding a park or plaza in the downtown core, connections to the regional bike trail system, and a riverwalk, as well as creating a stronger downtown entry from Highway 50, improving the character of the streets, adding new housing options, and creating a stronger downtown identity.

The plaza's design would need to incorporate balance for big and small events, a variety of paving types, seating, waste receptacles, bike racks, amenities (such as a fountain, public art, Christmas tree, existing historic bell), and necessary parking spaces. Landscaping and lighting also would be updated.

The cost for the concept alone was estimated at $7,000.

Funding will come out of unspent budget dollars or the general fund reserve since this item was not budgeted in 2017, Kienberger said.