With a bit of luck, and for the right price, the city of Brooksville could soon have a new look that consultants and council members are hoping visitors will catch on to.
Brooksville City Council voted Monday to consider preliminary improvement plans for spaces and features in the city that would appeal to visiting pedestrians and bicyclists.
The prospective improvements includes a tree planting plan, three priority design or build projects still to be selected, a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly connection to the Good Nature Trail, and signs for visitors to locate major attractions, civic areas and parking facilities.
City Councilman and Beautification Board member Joe Bernardini said the city has been in need of an aesthetic project like this one for a long time, and that the engineering consultant will specify the concepts presented Monday, then present them to the Community Redevelopment Area board, which is comprised of City Council members.
"(The consultant is) going to go and look at all that stuff, and bring it back to the board for us to say, 'Yes, we want to do these signs,' or 'We want to do this bypass' or 'We don't want to do it,'" Bernardini said, adding that the same concepts will also be presented to the Beautification Board. "I think this whole project is something this city has needed for a long time, and the fact we do have a Beautification Board, we should keep them involved, otherwise what use is the board?"
According to a memorandum of the project, attached to the city council's Feb. 4 meeting, a focus of the beautification project will be at major gateways such as Cortez Boulevard and Jefferson Street, Broad Street, and Ponce de Leon Boulevard and Cobb Road, and the signs will be designed based on researched "data, imagery and historically relevant materials."
Several state and local permits still need to be obtained for the project, including from the Florida Department of Transportation, as well as periodic inspections.
The planning and design services are in accordance with a Nov. 15, 2010, contract between the city of Brooksville Community Redevelopment Agency and Coast Engineering Associates Inc., which was budgeted in the 2012-13 Capital Improvement Program by a Community Redevelopment Plan update.
The beautification project will be funded by a lump-sum fee not to exceed $92,530, according to a copy of the memorandum.
Aside from the "Downtown Beautiful" ($30,000) and "Gateway Improvements and Wayfinding Signage" ($44,750) programs, preparation of a "Recreation Master Plan" ($7,890) and "Stormwater Master Plan" ($9,890) will be tailored to the Community Redevelopment Area, as well.
Bernardini said although he thinks this is a project necessary for the city, and it was budgeted into capital improvement funds for this year, it's competing with other projects.
"I think the whole concept is important, I just don't know if we can afford everything," Bernardini said. "Whether that's where we want to spend the money or not: that's the question. The money is there if that's what we feel is the best way to spend it, is as it is presented."