Discussion on Prairie Grove Town Center Renovations

PRAIRIE GROVE — Several downtown merchants, business owners and property owners attended a city-sponsored public information meeting on June 7 at the Prairie Grove District Courtroom.

The purpose of the meeting was to present preliminary plans and gather public feedback for a multi-million dollar project to improve the downtown shopping district over the next year.

Engineer William Pattengill and project manager Steven Beam of Burns and McDonnell of Springdale, which is supervising the project, provided detailed explanations of the various construction elements contained within the project.

The city was represented by Larry Oelrich, Administrative Assistant, Director of Public Works Chuck Wiley and Council Member Rick Ault.

According to a May bulletin released by the city, downtown renovations will include installing drain pipes along Buchanan Street, replacing water pipes, new streets, wider sidewalks, new sidewalks to the west, plus additional green space and landscaping. The main drain lines under existing US 62B near the post office will be replaced with larger pipes, eliminating a major bottleneck.

Beam answered questions and explained block by block the planned renovations. Some changes cannot be made until Prairie Grove assumes ownership of US 62B from the state.

Improvements will be made along Baggett, Pittman, Buchanan, Kate Smith and Mock streets. The project is expected to last eight months once work begins.

Oelrich said the speed limit through downtown will likely be reduced once the city takes control of US 62B.

The current speed limit is 30 mph when going through downtown, but Oelrich said the city has considered dropping to 20 mph as part of the plan.

Wiley mentioned other changes after the transfer is complete that aim to provide adequate parking for downtown businesses. Among these will be an incline parking lot in front of Razorback Pizza on Buchanan Street.

Parallel parking spaces will be striped to encourage drivers to park there and prevent drivers from using it as a lane, according to Wiley.

Someone asked if the city is considering charging for downtown parking. The answer was no, it hadn’t been discussed in the planning.

Flooding caused by water coming from the street will be mitigated by the restructuring of the drainage in the downtown area. Beam said plans include transporting runoff underground, which he said would significantly improve drainage.

Some box culverts will be replaced with larger units to help prevent flooding on the road.

An aerial map provided by Burns and McDonnell showed historic downtown Prairie Grove.

There will be sidewalks on both sides of Mock Street with parallel parking on the west side of Mock Street. Beam said there was not enough right of way available to have parallel parking on both sides of Mock.

The aisles were discussed.

“If there’s an aisle there today, there will be one in the future,” Beam said.

He noted that some aisles are not well defined, but the plan accounts for any discrepancies.

“We will try to provide a logical location for a true two-way driveway 24 feet wide to allow [traffic] in and out,” he said.

He said these improvements will help delineate the flow of inbound and outbound traffic between buildings.

Other factors taken into consideration are the parades held at the Clothesline Fair and other events, and a pedestrian crossing will be installed on Buchanan Street between Neal and Mock Streets so that people do not have not to cross.

David H. Henry