Downtown is benched Wednesday

Downtown is benched Wednesday Adam Brunick and Tyler Wetering secure a decorative bench outside the Doo-Wop Shake Shop on Vermillion's Main Street. The decorative, durable furniture is part of the streetscape improvement plan for the city's downtown business district. by David Lias They may only be pieces of furniture.

But the new, sturdy benches bolted into place at several Vermillion Main Street locations by a city street crew this week mark the beginning of progress on the local downtown streetscape progress.

�What I wrote to street-scape committee members today was ?Remember this date, Aug. 10, 2005, because it�s the day we started the implementation process�,� said Kevin Jacobson, chairman of the committee. �It is an important day for the city of Vermillion, and it is the start of things to come.�

The streetscape planning process began in 2003, with two days of meetings held with public groups and the staff of TSP, a consulting firm from Sioux Falls and Brian Clark and Associates, a landscape architecture firm.

Concepts of the total streetscape plan include:

? Parking to accommodate customers, business employees, residents, service/maintenance personnel and equipment, delivery vehicles, etc. and any existing or proposed ordinances that might affect downtown parking.

? Space utilization, such as first floor commercial, second floor residential and commercial, building infill, open space, etc.

? Aesthetics, including parking nodes, walkways, lighting, etc.

? Public pocket parks, which are green spaces for passive public use.

? Traffic flow for vehicles and pedestrians and directional signage from the highway and major streets within the community, and traffic calming options.

? Building maintenance, including store fronts but also general structural exterior maintenance.

?Seasonal beautification and landscaping/streetscaping, with flowers and trees, benches, tables and chairs, outdoor art, etc.

Six benches were placed downtown Wednesday. It�s a humble, but significant start to the process, Jacobson said.

Local private donations from individuals and companies, and significant contributions by the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce and USD Alumni Foundation made the purchase of the benches possible.

The benches are durable, relatively maintenance-free and designed for the outdoors.

�We want people to spend more time downtown, and enjoy themselves and be comfortable,� Jacobson said.

Additional outdoor amenities, including a bike rack and trash cans, will be installed later this year.

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