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updated: 10/25/2012 11:01 AM

Final streetscape phase may not be the last in Elgin

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Elgin City Council members on Wednesday approved funding for a portion of the final phase of the planned downtown business district streetscape project.

Construction started in 2006 on phase one of the project designed to transform the look of downtown while rehabbing sewers and other infrastructure. Mayor David Kaptain said doing the beautification work at the same time as the underground fixes may have been painful for people inconvenienced by the construction, but he said the changes are good ones.

"They created a foundation for business to be successful," Kaptain said.

Council members will decide whether to continue the streetscape project during budget discussions next month. The city council is scheduled to consider future phases as part of a conversation about the Central Area Tax Increment Financing district on Nov. 14. The streetscape work has been paid for with money from property taxes collected in the TIF district and saved for just such projects, with a goal of steadily improving the area.

The entire fifth phase of the streetscape project is estimated to cost $3.37 million; council members on Wednesday approved spending $353,850 for construction administration in the final phase.

Ideas for future streetscape project areas include the Highland Avenue and Chicago Street bridges; State Street from Highland Avenue to Chicago Street; alleyways on Douglas Avenue and DuPage Court; and the corridor along Dundee Avenue, Center Street and Villa Court. Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal said plans for future phases are formed in concept only, with very little design and engineering work completed.

Jason Pawlowski, managing director of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, said the streetscape improvements have helped entice new businesses to the downtown and created an environment for others to succeed.

"Certainly the amount of public investment has put a great new face on our downtown," Pawlowski said.

The majority of phase five work will be on Spring and Dexter streets. Some work will start before Thanksgiving, but much of it will happen next summer with completion expected by August.

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