Public gets look at downtown plans

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Now that the concept for the downtown revitalization project is known, it’s time to fine tune it so it can become a viable and utilized Depot Square.

That was the purpose of Tuesday’s meeting where the public had a chance to listen to the planners give their explanations for their proposals. Then the planners listened to the public on whether or not they liked what they heard.

“This is a meeting where we are looking for ideas,” Ralph Kline, assistant executive director of CAO, told the small group who turned out at the City Center for the 4 p.m. forum.

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“We have a design concept,” he said. “Now we need detailed feedback on how the facility should work and function.”

Joining Kline were Phil Honsey, planning manager for Poggemeyer Design Group from Bowling Green — the design firm for the project — and Scott Heacock, project manager.

“Ironton should feel really good about itself,” Honsey said. “You have attracted downtown funding again. You have attracted statewide attention.”

The project expected to have a price tag of $2.5 million will transform parts of the area by the former N&W depot, now Austyn’s restaurant, into an area to be used for such activities as a Farmers’ Market and concerts.

First discussed was a wall that would go between the former depot and the railroad track. It could feature a bas relief, cantilevered canopies and open spaces, Heacock suggested.

“A solid wall would give more protection and the vendors could leave their stuff up at night,” Frank Murphy, Ironton city councilman, said.

There was also concern that the proposed parking area would not accommodate farmers with trucks and trailers.

“Where will the small farmers’ market vendors park?” asked A.J. Walsh, a local businessman. “There is not a large area for van size trailer. I only see single parking.”

“When I have gone to farmers’ markets, there has always been a place for the vehicles to park,” Carol Allen of Ironton in Bloom, commented. “You say there will be an area for these trucks?”

Also under discussion was the size of the stage to be used for musical concerts.

“You design for the medium,” Heacock said as he detailed the possibility of a 36 by 20 stage with equipment to enlarge it as needed. “That will accommodate a lot of different sizes (of users).”

Flexibility was a concern as a variety of different sized bands play at city functions throughout the year.

“As Ironton grows, we will be getting bigger acts,” Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship told the group.