By Alex Bridges
JoAnn and Paul Guay moved to Strasburg in mid April in time to see downtown enhancement work begin.
The Guays, with an interest in their new community, attended an open house Monday at Town Hall on the downtown streetscape enhancement and utility replacement projects.
Town officials held the open house to inform residents and business owners of the work on the utilities along King Street set to begin July 21.
Work on the first two phases of the streetscape project -- from Capon Street to Fort Street and Fort Street to Holliday Street -- could begin in August or September.
The Guays expressed interest in the streetscape project - the more visible of the two initiatives.
"It's just a delightful town and there's such a sense of community here already that it's nice to know that they're trying to enhance that and draw in more people," said JoAnn Guay.
The Guays moved from Mt. Olive to a smaller home at South Massanutten and Queen streets. While they still work full-time jobs, the Guays moved to Strasburg to a community where they can walk to shops, the post office, the library, and to see other sites from home.
Members of Town Council joined Town Manager Judson Rex and Director of Public Works Mark Gundersen at the open house. Owners of several businesses along King Street who came to the open house looked at drawings of the utility project and the streetscape.
Rex described to the Guays and others the amenities in the streetscape enhancements, including the "bump outs" at some intersections that shorten the walking distance for pedestrians, trees, brick in-lays in the concrete sidewalk and new street lamps.
Richard Perryman, owner of the Strasburg Theatre, said he preferred the "bump out" located by the business he's been renovating and preparing to reopen. The theater is in the section of King Street that already went through the utility replacement.
Business owners asked about the trees along King Street. Plans call for the town to replace the Bradford pear trees, most of which have outlived their lifespan. Some of the business owners pointed out that the lack of the trees already creates problems. A lack of shade means the upstairs areas of their properties stay hot, they said. The shade also gave potential customers a place to stand outside before entering their businesses, the owners said. The trees also had provided protection from the wind.
Rex explained that the streetscape design calls for the contractor to replace the pear trees with maples. The town is hoping to save several larger trees along the street, but Rex noted this depends on what crews run into as they dig underground to replace water and sewer lines.
Construction of the next phase of the utility project begins July 21. The second phase spans King Street from Capon Street to Fort Street. The first phase covered King Street from Fort Street to Holliday Street.
Gundersen explained that the town will use a contractor to assist with the utility project.
The town is accepting bids through July 3 from firms interested in building the first two phases of the streetscape project. The town held a meeting with interested contractors ahead of the submission date. Rex noted that the Virginia Department of Transportation must approve the winning bid and he anticipated the process would continue into mid August.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org