With new projects planned by the city to improve roads, parks and trails, a Greenwood resident is looking forward to the new shops and restaurants that work is intended to bring.
Greenwood resident Mandy Long said development in downtown Greenwood can’t happen soon enough, and she hopes it will bring in new locally-owned businesses.
“The only question I have is, ‘how fast can we get it done?’” Long said.
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And as a mother of four, the focus on connecting walking and bike paths across the city is also exciting, she said.
Long joined a packed crowd of about 100 residents who attended the city’s presentation and question-and-answer sessions on Thursday evening at the Greenwood city building. City officials wanted to inform residents about new projects that would be mostly paid for with money from the city’s tax-increment financing, or TIF, districts, which collect property tax dollars from certain businesses and set the money aside for infrastructure and economic development.
The projects include a reconstructed Madison Avenue, in between Smith Valley and County Line roads, a downtown underground parking garage, retail and residential development replacing the parking lot north of the Greenwood city building, a revitalized Old City Park, a roundabout at the intersection of Smith Valley Road and Madison Avenue, a new road connecting Market Plaza and Surina Way and improvements to the intersection of Main and Meridian streets. The city is also considering a plan to lease the current Mrs. Curl Ice Cream Shop building — if they construct a new one at Main and Meridian streets as planned — and use it for a city bike rental program where residents could also park their bikes.
Residents wanted to know when work would begin, what types of businesses the city wants to bring downtown, where people will have room to park and if their taxes will increase to pay for any of the projects.
City officials answered questions from residents about the projects, showing them images and renderings created by a consultant to point out where developments and improvements would happen.
Development is still several years away for parts of the project. While the city is making plans to begin the Old City Park improvements this summer, including a new road to connect Market Plaza and Surina Way, other projects, such as the ones on the middle school property, likely won’t begin until 2020 at the earliest, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said.
City plans call for more people to be living downtown, with more than 400 apartments and 100 town homes projected, which could result in as many as 1,000 more people living downtown, city attorney Krista Taggart said. Having people living downtown will be essential to bringing in the restaurants and shops the city wants by providing a customer base downtown, she said.
After hearing talk about downtown development for several years, resident Will Roleson said he was excited to finally be able to see concrete plans of what the city is considering.
Making the downtown a destination again will help in attracting residents to the area, he said.
Parking and traffic flow were the primary concern for several residents who attended the meeting.
Even with the additional parking proposed by the city, including an underground parking garage, separate parking for apartment and town home residents, street parking along Main Street and Madison Avenue and possibly more parking on the middle school property, Joe and Gerri Zygmunt said they worried about the availability of parking downtown.
“It doesn’t seem to be enough,” Joe Zygmunt said.
Tony Eichhold questioned if the roads around downtown will be able to handle the extra traffic. As a member of Our Lady of the Greenwood Church, he wondered what the impact would be on parents picking up and dropping off kids at the school on what is already a busy stretch of roadway on Madison Avenue.
City officials say the traffic improvements — the roundabout, eliminating most left turns at Madison Avenue and Main Street, a right turn lane onto northbound Meridian Street at Main Street, and the connector road south of the library — will greatly improve the traffic flow through downtown.
Yvonne Sheek said she is looking forward to having the roundabout to improve traffic along Smith Valley Road. Plans for the roundabout, and other improvements to the intersections nearby, are set to begin construction in 2018 to help resolve what has long been a congested area.