JOHN DAY - At a crowded public hearing attended by more than 25 people Jan. 10 at John Day City Hall, the consensus of opinion among members of the downtown business community and citizens living along Southeast Dayton Street was that alternative plan No. 1 for proposed street improvements was the most feasible.
Brad Baird of Anderson-Perry & Associates from La Grande, the engineering firm contracted by the city to submit proposals for the project, gave a brief overview of four plans.
"The major goal in addition to street repair and improvements is to increase traffic and pedestrian safety," Baird said.
The street improvement project is not connected to the downtown development plan adopted by the city.
"The street needs to be repaired and because it does, we are looking at alternatives for improvement," Mayor Bob Quinton said. "The need for adequate parking is our biggest concern."
"The street surface is breaking up and needs to be fixed," City Manager Peggy Carey said.
Southeast Dayton Street is approximately 50 feet wide and then narrows down to 40 feet in the area south of the Ford Garage.
"This creates a traffic flow problem, which is one of the things we have to deal with," Baird said.
Alternative plan No. 1 doesn't make any changes in the street configuration.
Under this plan, "Dayton Street would be two-way, with parking on the east side and a sidewalk on the west side," Baird said. "There would be parking on both sides of the street where it is wider."
Alternative plan No. 2 would have sidewalks on both sides of the street all the way, but parking would be lost where the road narrows.
Under plan No. 3, the street would be one way southbound with parking and sidewalks on both sides.
The most radical of the four plans would have a street with sidewalks and parking on both sides, and a parking area near the fire department building. There would also be a turnoff on First Street to intersect with South Canyon Boulevard. Traffic would no longer be able to access Southeast Dayton Street from South Canyon Boulevard in front of the fire department.
Fire Chief Ted Johnson expressed major concerns that the area around the fire department is not safe.
"People come flying down Canyon Boulevard and turn off on Dayton Street. This is a major problem," he said.
Doug Waters asked which plan the city liked and Quinton replied there is no consensus among council members on which plan to use.
"This is the reason for this public hearing," Quinton said.
Ken Kindig asked what were the city's long-range goals: "Are they parking, foot traffic or safety? In one of the plans, it looks like you'd be losing about eight parking spaces."
Businessman Brian Gardner liked plan No. 4 the best.
"Traffic flow would be much better and it would not hurt businesses because ample parking would be available," Gardner said.
A traffic flow study has not been conducted.
An informal vote was taken among citizens attending the public hearing and it was decided that plan No. 1 was preferred.
Information and comments will go to the Public Works Committee and recommendations will be presented at the Jan. 24 council.
"If everything goes right, we hope to have this project completed by the summer," Carey said.