The News-Record

University of Oklahoma graduate students presented unveiled a series of concepts they believe will improve the aesthetics of Miami's downtown assets.

Using successful programs borrowed from communities studied nationwide and applying data gathered during a site analysis of Miami, the graduates suggest that green street efforts, rain garden projects and pedestrian-friendly concepts could work well in Miami's downtown revitalization efforts.

According to Leehu Loon, assistant professor of landscape architecture at the OU, students focused their efforts on improving downtown streetscapes, parking lots and a proposed pocket park - but looked at Miami's residential neighborhoods, parks and commercial areas before considering their approach to downtown designs.

Green street designs, if implemented, will offer aesthetic enhancement through vegetation and trees. It will also allow stormwater runoff to be cleansed and directed into drains.

Rain gardens are designed with the same purpose, but specifically target areas that lack curb and guttering.

Loon said pedestrian-friendly and traffic-calming projects, including designs that allow foot traffic to move safely through downtown, would be beneficial.

Community members lingered for about an hour in city hall with student, asking questions and making suggestions for enhancements.

This can't happen inside a vacuum, Loon said. That is why we need the community's help.

The students will weigh comments from the community as they pull together a final design plan to be presented in May.

City engineer Jerry Ruse said the project will dove-tail into the city's downtown revitalization project as final plans will be ready as the city prepares to start the first phase of a $2 million re-design of the city's oldest thoroughfare.

That project will result in 1929-era lighting, sidewalks, new curbs and guttering, and a new street surface.

What is on the horizon?

Milling - As soon as the City of Miami gets a green light from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and plans are approved by the state Historical Preservation office, Main Street will be ground down to a depth of about three inches from curb to curb.

Paving - After milling is complete, permanent asphalt paving will be laid in the thru lanes. Parking lanes will be addressed later in the project.

Demolition - City labor forces will work ahead of construction contractors to remove existing sidewalks, curb and guttering.

Construction - New, more narrow sidewalks will be built as will new curb and guttering. Period lighting, replicating vintage street lamps, will be installed.

Paving - After construction is complete, paving of the parking lanes will be done.

Who is paying for it?

State - The Oklahoma Department of Transportation provided $300,000 transportation grant.

County - Each of the Ottawa County road districts contributed about $33,000 for asphalt overlay.

City - The will provide about $217,000 in labor and $224,000 in funds.

GRDA - The Grand River Dam Authority will provide approximately $231,000 to purchase street lighting fixtures and traffic signals.