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Price council approves town square concept after debate, close vote

Sun Advocate reporter

Price City council members gave approval for the city to apply for funding for a town square concept with new benches, street lights, flower baskets and other materials to help improve the perimeter of the City Hall block.

The council passed a motion 3-2 in support of the town square concept which would help beautify the areas around City Hall which would begin sometime in 2014. Council members Kathy Hanna-Smith, Layne Miller and Rick Davis voted in support of the concept while Grady McEvoy and Wayne Clausing voted against it.

The total estimated cost of the project is $1.16 million. The town square concept would then be considered for the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and then later placed into the city's budget when the funding is acquired.

A portion of the project funding, which is not to exceed $310,000, could be available through an application with the Utah Department of Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) fund. However, the city must include a local match of 6.77 percent with the project funding. The funds would be available in 2014.

The city needed to turn in its application for the funding to UDOT on Friday afternoon.

With the Carbon County Courthouse still in the process of moving to a new location along 100 North, the city has expressed an interest in making sure the area near City Hall looks at its best in the future years.

The city must show throughout the project that they are committed to it if they want to receive funding from UDOT said Gary Sonntag, Price City public works director. If the city is able follow through on the requirements to receive the funding, Sonntag said this could be the beginning for other projects in the area.

"This could be a springboard to other funding for the area," Sonntag explained. "This block would be a template for other areas for the city."

Because the city has not budgeted the money for the project for 2014, there are still a lot of unanswered questions along with the project. Mayor Joe Piccolo said the city could possibly have the project turned into a number of phases by spreading the funding for the project over a period of time. With other sources of funding out there, Davis said the phasing of the project would be the city's best course of action.

While the project is a unique possibility for the city, Sonntag said he was unsure of how things would play out considering the funding from UDOT being new.

"It's so new, I'm not sure what's going to happen," he explained.

McEvoy, who voted against the project, said he would have a hard time putting money towards a project such as this due to the current financial situation.

"The funding situation for this would be difficult," McEvoy said. He also cited that some council members, including himself, would be voting on funding for a project that they might not be around for when things begin in 2014.

While money from other sources including the Community Impact Board might be available, Nick Tatton, Price City community director, said funding from the CIB might be available but it would come in the form of a loan that the city would need to pay back later.

Hanna-Smith, who has been in support of many projects and ideas that center around helping beautify and keeping Main Street looking at its best, said this is the first time she can remember the city looking this deeply into a project like this.

"This is the furthest we've gone on a project like this," Hanna-Smith said.

While there was some talk among council members that the city should maintain what they have and try to work and live within the budget available, Piccolo said the project can be viewed as a glass half empty or a glass half full type of situation.

"It depends on how you look at the possibility of improving the City Hall block and working on the project," he said.

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