Driving up route 51 into downtown Carbondale is a whole new experience since the completion of the city’s first phase of the Illinois Avenue Streetscape Project, according to the Keep Carbondale Beautiful Board.
At its October meeting, the board voted to recognize the improvements with a Bright Spot Award. Overhead wires have been relocated, new curbs and sidewalks are varied with bumpouts and small gardens, all lit up at night by new, efficient streetlights.
The organization says the award goes to several groups of people — the Downtown Advisory Committee guided the process and made sure that the public was involved at each step; hundreds of citizens participated. City Staff provided the DAC with research and technical support. The Carbondale City Council formed the DAC in 2014 and made final decisions. Construction was done by Samron Midwest Contracting of Murphysboro. Landscape design was by Bruce Francis, and landscape work was under the direction of Jason Shoot.
“The Downtown Advisory Committee was proud listen to and represent the Carbondale community from 2014-2016 during the Master Planning process,” Meghan Cole, executive director of Carbondale Main Street said in a news release. “ So many of our community members are pleased with seeing progress in our downtown district, and I hope to see improvements continue to grow in our downtown district.”
Tuesday morning, members of the city and Keep Carbondale Beautiful met to celebrate the achievement. Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry said it “meant a lot” to be recognized by an organization within the city with a sole purpose to the beautification of Carbondale.
He said during his Monday afternoon open meeting with SIU Chancellor Carlo Montemagno, students told him they were impressed with the shape of the downtown and many parents were as well. Phase 2 of the project will most likely start in the spring and will have a similar timeline as the first project, meaning it will be finished by the time students return for the fall semester, Henry said. The project is schedule to remodel from the Varsity Center to City Hall. Next will be the Town Square, he said.
All in all, phase one of the project had a price tag of about $1.7 million and the next phase will come in at a little less than $1 million, Henry said. Both projects are being funded by the food and beverage tax and the package liquor tax implemented in the summer of 2016 by the Carbondale City Council.
The Bright Spot certificate was presented Tuesday at the City Council meeting.
The Keep Carbondale Beautiful, Inc., Board selects businesses or residences to receive the Bright Spot Award for enhancing the beauty of Carbondale’s community by means of revitalization of property, new construction, plantings and beautification, upkeep and maintenance, or rehabilitation.
To nominate a business or residence to receive the Award, call the Keep Carbondale Beautiful office at 525-5525 or email BrightSpotAward@gmail.com.
Some material in this story was provided by Keep Carbondale Beautiful.