Omaha history, boulevard edition
The city’s major sewer system overhaul has prompted planning for something else: a historic boulevard system that dates to the late 1880s.
There’s no money for it yet, but there is a lengthy master plan that envisions mending boulevard connections lost to development and highway construction, improved lighting and landscaping and signs that would help link the entire system.
The idea, according to park planner Pat Slaven, is to get back to the vision of famed landscape architect Horace Cleveland. He designed the system to provide a seamless connection of green spaces between the city’s parks.
Dundee uneasy to turn over new leaf
The tree battle of Dundee continues.
Columnist Matthew Hansen has a look today at the latest in the neighborhood-versus-city tension brewing over trees being taken out along and around Underwood Avenue.
The city is removing the trees in preparation for a $2.5 million renovation of the Dundee business district, though as Hansen notes, officials have also said the trees have to go because of utility work. Residents didn’t seem to put up much of a fight in a series of meetings the city held to discuss the work. Now, however, they’re pushing back.
Benson “gateway” renovations begin
The eastern entrance to Benson’s main stretch of businesses is getting a face lift.
Mayor Jim Suttle, City Councilman Pete Festersen and a handful of neighborhood leaders met Monday to mark the start of construction near the intersection of North 58th Street and Northwest Radial Highway. The $560,000 project will include changes to the sometimes-dangerous intersection, new landscaping and a new sign and monument.
A similar project at the other end of Benson’s business district is scheduled to start next year. Traffic will be rerouted around the east end of Benson during construction, which is expected to wrap up in July.
Parking, now with plastic
How to Use an IPS Smartmeter from IPS Smart Meters on Vimeo.
Omaha’s new credit card-accepting parking meters have arrived.
The first 400 of the 1,000 new meters went up Tuesday around the Old Market and near the city and county offices a few blocks west. Another 600 are expected to arrive in mid-May and will replace the old, coin-only meters on streets between those two areas. In total, the project will cost $492,000.
The new, solar-powered meters will take coins or cards (with a minimum of a $1 charge for the card option) and offer the city the ability to get real-time information about which meters are in use or out of order. Ken Smith, the city’s parking manager, says that information will help guide future decisions about parking changes in the city.
Adventures in wayfinding
You might have noticed the colorful signs going up around downtown, pointing visitors toward the area’s big attractions. Hopefully you didn’t follow this one to Creighton University — which isn’t, as it turns out, somewhere in the middle of the Missouri River.
RDG Planning & Design, the firm that helped design the Downtown Omaha Wayfinding Project with the City of Omaha and the Downtown Improvement District, is fixing the incorrect sign at 13th Street and Capitol Avenue.
“We have 44 different pole locations and about 23 sign faces. We have 30 poles installed, and this is only the second problem. That’s not doing too bad,” said John Sova, principal at RDG.
Yes, it’s still winter
So this is good news*. Omaha snow removal crews are “planning for the worst,” said Scott McIntyre, the city’s street maintenance engineer.
“This really has the potential to be a pretty significant snowfall,” McIntyre said of this week’s expected storm. “It’s going to be a difficult snow operation to stay on top of.”
The city will also declare a snow emergency late Thursday/Friday, meaning new parking regulations will take effect.
Pothole season is upon us
The good news: It’s not the worst pothole season we’ve seen in recent years. Mild temperatures and limited snowfall (so far, anyway) have meant fewer massive craters in Omaha’s roads.
City crews starting filling in the holes in December, when there were 10 work orders for potholes. The number jumped to 186 in January and was already at 151 by late last week.
The bad news: A few more snow-melt cycles might make the numbers jump even higher. But the city does have several ways to get in touch about a pothole that needs repaired.
You can check in by phone (402-444-4919), online through the Public Works Department or by using the city’s mobile app.
Plan for apartments near Fairacres stalls
A North Carolina-based firm’s plan to build apartments near the Fairacres neighborhood appears to have stalled.
City Councilman Pete Festersen said Campus Crest Communities Inc. told him it would not seek Planning Board approval of the controversial proposal in March.
It’s unclear whether the developer is revising its plan or scrapping it altogether.
Neighborhood opposition quickly surfaced after the firm unveiled a proposal for 10 buildings on an eight-acre site not far from 72nd and Cass Streets.
Walk this way…
Finding your way to places like the Durham Museum, the Orpheum Theater, Turner Park and the Lauritzen Botanical Gardens is about to get easier.
This week, the city started putting up the first of 88 signs meant to help drivers and pedestrians locate some of the city’s most popular destinations. The $800,000 project has been in the works since Mike Fahey was in the Mayor’s Office, but finally started picking up speed about a year and a half ago.
Reminder: Dundee streetscape meeting Thursday
If you live in Dundee, own a business there or are just curious about the construction that will take over the area around North 50th Street and Underwood Avenue this spring and summer, take note.
The last public meeting about the city’s planned $2.5 million renovation will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, at the Neighborhood Center. It’s located at 115 South 49th Ave. Officials will show off the final design and construction plan for the projects (including renderings like the one above, from Snyder & Associates.)
Planned upgrades include new traffic lights, expanded curbs, additional landscaping and angled parking. The city is taking input here.