The City of Douglas is seeking public comments on the designs for its downtown revitalization project.

The project first began in 2021 but was halted due to requests for changes in the design and lack of grant funding available due to COVID. Mayor Donald Huish said they want to fund the project with grant funds and the $1.2 million they have from the COVID relief funds issued by the Biden administration in 2021. The range in cost for the streetscape is $2.8 to $4 million.

Douglas is hosting a survey for the public to select the design they like the best. However, locals pointed out that there isn’t a ‘none of the above’ option on the survey, and there isn’t a spot for additional comments.

The three designs show improvements to the infrastructure of the street and the sidewalks. G Avenue, from 9th to 12th street, would be narrowed so the sidewalks can be widened. Huish said the expansion of the sidewalks would allow restaurants to have outdoor seating and businesses to have products for sale outside.

We want it to be a place where people, number one, can be proud of again,” the Mayor said. “We want it to be a place of relaxation.

Business owners in the downtown area aren’t sold on the designs. Eric Braverman, owner of The Last Supper Museum, and Tonya Duarte, manager of the Gadsden Hotel, agree that they would rather the money be spent on preserving current buildings and fixing the street and sidewalks so they are safe.

Look at these beautiful buildings,” Braverman said. “Lets fix the fronts of them. Let’s work with the city owners. Instead of doing their garish thing that no one wants.

Duarte says multiple designs have already been vetoed because they were too modern. She says her community wants to preserve the history in the downtown area.

We really need to market as a historic area,” Duarte said. “This is known as the historic district, so I dont think the modernization should be something thats done.

Douglas council members Jose Grijalva and Danya Acosta have heard from business owners and others about the concerns they have with the pending project and have passed the messages to the city employees. They share the same concerns as the community when it comes to spending a large amount of money on one project instead of on making the downtown area safe.

Do the things that are reasonable fixing the sidewalks, fixing up the street, and then talking about how G Avenue looks,” Grijalva said. “That should be the priority when there are safety hazards, not only in the streets with pot holes, but also with the sidewalks being picked up. Thats not caring about our community.

The three blocks that would be upgraded are in Acosta’s ward, and while this is a benefit to her ward she has mixed feelings about the project because it’s not fully supported by the community and it doesn’t embrace the historic nature of the area.

Huish is hoping construction can start in the early months of 2024. Grijalva says the timing can be seen as “political” by the public since next year is an election year.

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