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Downtown design

| April 13, 2005 12:00 AM

It's up to us.

The downtown streetscape.

It always has been but we've never really grabbed the project by the proverbial horns and wrested it to the ground. And there's no reason we can't.

A consortium of designers, architects and engineers looked at downtown Libby and made a proposal that makes a lot of sense from a streetscape design standpoint. It doesn't adopt a Disney-like theme, it doesn't require a massive rebuilding of the structures downtown and it can be undertaken in pieces that eventually make a whole - attractive downtown.

The proposal is merely a blend of new sidewalks and pedestrian crosswalks, of a few islands of sidewalks extending out into the existing roadway - "bulbs" - that are a designed to slow down traffic and help invite people to get out of their vehicles and walk. Which is a far better way to invite them into the downtown shops than breezing by at 20-25 miles an hour.

Add to the pedestrian designs, some landscaping and a different way of thinking for each individual business and we have the makings of an attractive place to do business - even worth turning off the highway for a look-see.

As usual this project comes with a price tag - $7 million to $10 million depending on how far you want to take it. Hopefully all the way if we want to rebuild a successful community for the future.

Next step will be discussed May 10 at another meeting. It will probably involve encouraging the downtown revitalization group to retain the services of one or more or all of the professional people working on the design presented last week. With a little luck, these people will know where we can pursue the funding or how we can raise it among ourselves to complete this make-over for downtown Libby.

The only thing standing in the way of a healthy economic community is us. Not money but attitude. Our attitude toward this community. So how much do we love Libby? - Roger Morris