By Michael Shea
The final public meeting on the Pedestrian Mall updates took place at the Iowa City Public Library on Thursday evening, where community members expressed their thoughts on the updates.
Scott Sovers, the senior civil engineer for Iowa City who is in charge of the reconstruction, led the presentation.
In that presentation, he said no construction work will be done during the Downtown Block Party, Sidewalk Sales, RAGBRAI, and Taste of Iowa City.
The presentation also said the Ped Mall will have utility upgrades, including new LED pole lights.
“Power pedestals will be placed in planting areas,” said Angie Coyier of Genus Landscape Architects. “This will better support all of the programs that have been successful across the area.”
The enhanced planting areas, according to the presentation, will have numerous types of different trees and new plants scattered throughout.
“There is a diverse tree palette to be installed,” Coyier said. “It’s a nice range.”
The officials described the art story walls that will be placed on the Ped Mall, with one titled “A Mark Was Made.” The story wall will describe celebrities who have shaped and influenced Iowa City. The pieces, whose names can be removed and changed for future names, will be located in Black Hawk Mini Park.
The second story wall, “Writers in a Café,” will have a poem by Marvin Bell printed on it. The wall will be located on the east side of the Ped Mall. The Wells Fargo ATM will not be relocated.
Other new items include new furnishings, both movable and fixed, and a drinking fountain, according to the presentation. A recycling system will also be added.
Families need not to worry about the play structure next to the Public Library. Coyier said it will stay where it is.
A permanent stage canopy will be put into place at the bottom of the hotel featuring will include integrated lighting. The structure can be used for both large and small performances, Coyier said.
“The statues throughout the Ped Mall will be relocated during construction and then reinstalled,” Sovers said.
The total project has a two-year construction period and will comprise two phases.
Phase 1 will begin April 30 and is set to end Oct. 31. The first phase runs from Black Hawk to the hotel. The middle of the Ped Mall containing the fountain is scheduled to be completed by July 31.
Phase 2 reconstruction will begin on May 13, 2019, and is set to end on Oct. 31, 2019. Phase 2’s location are the entrances along Clinton and Gilbert Streets and stop at the heart of the Ped Mall.
“The interior part of the mall will be torn up, and new paving will be put in,” Sovers said. “The pedestrian traffic will be pushed up against the buildings and 6-foot-high fencing will be added for their travel.”
Sovers said the projected cost of the project is $7.4 million.
“I think it’s an exciting time for downtown, the updates I’m hoping will continue to attract people of all ages,” said Veronica Tessler, the owner of Yotopia. “I think in the end, we can all hope for all the good that will come with these enhancements. In the meantime, we kind of just have to grit our teeth and get through construction.”