By CHRISTINA LIEFFRING
The Journal Times
RACINE, Wis. (AP) — The city of Racine is looking into revamping its downtown and Monument Square in an effort to make the area more inviting to residents and visitors.
In a request for proposals that was released last month, city officials say they are seeking a multidisciplinary urban-design team to do a traffic design for downtown Main Street, a downtown parking strategy and a redesign of Monument Square, “all of which will work together to promote our Downtown as a welcoming destination, a place to arrive and stay, a thriving business and cultural center and a place to call home.”
City officials have budgeted $150,000 for traffic and parking designs and $50,000 for redesigning Monument Square, the Journal Times reported.
By its deadline of April 18, the city had received 14 responses. City staff will review the applications over the next three to four weeks, conduct interviews with three or four applicants and then make a final recommendation.
In drawing up the RFP, city officials relied on recommendations made in both a parking study and by the tourism adviser Roger Brooks, who visited Racine County in 2017.
In 2005, the city spent $1.5 million to redesign Monument Square to its current configuration, removing grass and a fountain to provide more space.
But Brooks said the space is still not being used to its full potential and advised the city to redesign it. Some of his suggestions called for removing parking spaces and bollards between the square and storefronts and installing more greenery, seating and activities.
“Your plaza has to be about people,” Brooks wrote in his report. “Right now this space is pretty, but unused, because there are no benches or things to do. It could easily be converted into an active space that people like to use and spend their free time.”
The RFP also calls for the construction of a skating rink, splash pad, spaces for outdoor dining or outdoor use by businesses, and a connection to the lakefront and Sam Johnson Parkway.
One of the biggest goals with the project is to deal with parking in downtown Racine.
The City Council has had several debates over the years about the best way to balance the supply and demand of parking spaces for visitors, employees and downtown residents.
One option the RFP suggests is to consider options such as so-called dynamic demand pricing (in which different rates would be in place at different times or during events), cash-free payments and remote detection and enforcement systems.
The RFP also calls for the traffic plan to have accommodations for autonomous vehicles. Another recommendation would have the number of lanes on Main Street reduced to force traffic to slow down.