Springfield City Council last night unanimously approved $22 million in sales tax projects, laying the foundation for placemaking improvements.
With the decision, the Springfield Department of Public Works budget has been amended to allow it to appropriate funds for the city’s one-eighth-cent transportation sales tax.
“Your guidance in establishing the quality of place priority is the first trigger,” City Manager Jason Gage told council members before the vote.
The tax, which was reapproved in November 2019 by nearly 80% of voters, has a sunset of 20 years. Over the next four years, it’s expected to bring in $22 million, equating to the amended budget for Public Works.
With the budget increase, Public Works plans to tackle infrastructure projects identified last year by residents through a public survey and other efforts. Among them are intersection improvements at Campbell Avenue and Walnut Lawn Street, National Avenue and Division Street, Kansas Expressway and Walnut Lawn, and Kansas Expressway and Sunset Street, according to city documents
At the time of the tax renewal vote last year, projects carried a price tag of $10 million, led by $4.5 million in improvements at Campbell Avenue and Walnut Lawn and $2.8 million for new sidewalks and intersections along Central Street, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.
The remaining $12 million expected is earmarked for other improvements, ranging from street resurfacing to bridge repair and replacement.
Quality of place
To assist with placemaking, the city hired Tim Rosenbury, a retiring partner at BRP Architects, to the new position of director of quality of place initiatives. He’s slated to start March 2.
“The role is a collaborative one, working with other departments helping to infuse more design input, particularly as it relates to pedestrians and a unique sense of place, something that’s more distinctive and unique to Springfield,” Rosenbury said this morning.
Though his workload has yet to be fully identified, one project Rosenbury said he’ll be involved with is the Grant Avenue Parkway Trail Connection Project. The city late last year got the nod for a $21 million federal grant to connect downtown Springfield to the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.
“We have the resources in the form of federal funding and the local match; we have the technical capability. We need the vision,” he said.
He also expects to have a role in the city’s Jordan Creek daylighting project.
“There will be other assignments and projects that come up, but essentially what I’m charged with is evaluating the quality of our public spaces,” he said.
Rosenbury also is expected to have a hand in the tax renewal projects that were presented to council for approval last night.
“As we bring Mr. Rosenbury on board, we obviously will look at those projects, but what we really want to do is also create a framework for vetting all of our capital improvement projects,” Gage said last night.
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