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Downtown changes

By Staff
Canopy renovation plan unveiled
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
The first drawings depicting how the downtown sidewalk canopies will look when they are upgraded with the help of a $480,000 Transportation Enhancement Grant received positive support at a public hearing held at City Hall Monday night. The meeting was attended by about 50 elected and appointed officials, business owners and other interested citizens.
The hour-long session was presided over by Jeff Johnson, Hartselle’s director of development. Two representatives of the firm responsible for the design and engineering, Sentell Engineering Inc. of Tuscaloosa, shared information and answered questions. They were John H. Stevens, design engineer and senior vice president, and Dr. Duane Castasneda, a structural engineer.
Johnson described the scope of work and entertained questions. He said the first phase of the two-phase project will involve the removal of the existing flat roof and facial trim, leaving the supporting structure. A new slanted metal roof complete with elevation offsets and dormers will be installed and the base supports will be sand blasted, primed and repainted to match the roof. Lighting will be included. The canopy corners will be mitered and protected by elevated concrete barriers. High light poles topped with fixtures similar to those on Railroad Street, additional handicap ramps at the street corners, and landscape borders will also be a part of the project.
Stevens said the drawings shown represented preliminary design work by his firm. They will be followed in a couple of months by the first complete set of drawings, which will be submitted to the Alabama Department of Transportation and Alabama Historical Commission for approval. He indicated that the final plans could be approved within four or five months. However, Terry Acuff, grant administrator, said he doesn’t expect the project to be ready for the letting of bids until early next year.
Property owners spoke out on several issues pertaining to the project. They wanted to know what the city planned to do about pigeon problem, routine maintenance of the canopies and openings where the canopies have been removed.
Johnson said an effort is under way to get property owners to allow open spaces in front of their buildings to be filled in by the new canopy and to come up with deterrents to prevent pigeons from roosting on the canopies. He acknowledged that the city has not done much to maintain the canopies in recent years but said he felt that would change when the canopies are upgraded.
The question of whether the state will allow the canopies to be attached to the store buildings also came up. It was agreed that the canopies will have a more balanced and uniform look if that could be done; however, both Stevens and Acuff indicated that it would not be allowed. They emphasized that the sidewalks are property of the state and the buildings are the property of individual owners.
Johnson said he’d like to see something worked out to close the two-inch open space between the canopies and buildings during construction. “
Comment forms were distributed to encourage written comments about the project. Steven said all comments will be reviewed and considered when the final design work is done.

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