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SSMID backs downtown landscaping

Discussion of signs begins

October 17, 2012
By BILL SHEA ( , Messenger News

A landscaping project and a downtown Fort Dodge Christmas celebration will get assistance from the Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District.

District leaders voted Tuesday to pay someone to water newly planted trees and shrubs near the Fareway store at Second Avenue South and 12th Street. An individual who has previously watered downtown flower baskets and performed other maintenance chores for the district will be paid $10 an hour to spend five hours a week watering the plants and trees. They will be watered until the first freeze happens.

The district's board of directors had previously pledged up to $50,000 to pay for a sidewalk, landscaping and fences at the site, according to Stephanie Houk Sheetz, the senior city planner. She added that the project has cost less than what was budgeted so far.

The sidewalk is done. The trees and shrubs were recently planted. The fencing has yet to be installed.

In other business, the board contributed $1,500 for the downtown holiday lighting event to be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 26 at the Trolley Center, 900 Central Ave.

Jim Gill, a member of the committee organizing the event, said it attracted about 2,000 people last year.

Also on Tuesday, Houk Sheetz asked the board to begin thinking about downtown gateway elements and wayfinding signs. She said gateway elements would be things like brick pillars to mark the entrances to the downtown. She said five potential locations for such elements were identified in the downtown master plan. The wayfinding signs would point people to various downtown features.

Steve Pederson, a member of the district's board, said he thinks the gateway elements and wayfinding signs should be combined.

''If we combine wayfinding with something that is a little inspiring, a little uplifting, we'll find the right balance,'' he said.

The board took no action on signs or gateway elements. Houk Sheetz said money for them should be included in the district's 2013-2014 budget.

The Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District is a roughly 33 block downtown area in which property owners pay an extra tax to finance improvements there.



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