City council presented with more affordable downtown revitalization project


Blaine is expected to receive downtown improvements but possibly not to the extent once planned.

Blaine City Council is reviewing a more affordable version of the downtown revitalization project it was presented last fall, after asking city staff to slim the multi-million dollar project in light of an anticipated $1 million shortfall in the city’s general fund.

The project is aimed to beautify downtown Blaine through improvements such as streetscaping and a newly designed Martin Street parklet, all of which city staff hopes will grow tourism and economic development. Improving ADA accessibility will also be a large project component.

Council was presented the revised project during its May 22 meeting and the Blaine Public Works Department has solicited project bids. Interim public works director Gary McSpadden said after the meeting that he didn’t have an estimate on how much money the revised project would save.

Last September, council was asked to vote on a $620,000 engineering design contract with Seattle-based KPG Psomas for the project, which was initially estimated to be $2.83 million. The project was fully funded but councilmembers repeatedly pushed voting on it as they considered using some of the project’s allocated money for more urgent needs while the city faced a tight 2023 budget.

The revised project cuts the G Street pavilion, which council had previously allocated $118,000 of its federal Covid-19 stimulus toward.

“Some of the things like the pavilion that would be nice to have but are what I’m going to call ‘general, general’ fund dollars are out of the project,” city manager Michael Harmon said during the council meeting.

The revised project will now include underground utility maintenance that McSpadden said is a higher priority than the aesthetic improvements. The city will replace a sewer main from the former Rustic Fork Eatery to Edaleen Dairy and a water main on Peace Portal Drive, from south of G Street to Clark Street.

The revised project will still include streetscape improvements to five blocks of Peace Portal Drive, from Clark Street to Marine Drive. Improvements could include flower planters, bike racks, outdoor seating, signage, landscaping and planted trees. The project would also design the bases and power conduits of gateway arches at the entrance of downtown.

The revised project will remain focused on safety issues and ADA improvements such as replacing aging sidewalk sections. Trees that are buckling the sidewalk would also be removed.

A small park that is at the end of Martin Street and next to Chada Thai restaurant will still get improvements under the new project. The city will consider removing or limiting vehicle access and improving park usability. The city has a completed parklet concept plan that shows a lawn area and play area surrounded by pavement, seating and an outdoor dining area.

Construction would likely begin in 2025, McSpadden said during the meeting, which is a year delayed from the original plan.  


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