When a community works together, great and beautiful things can be accomplished.
In a move that will save money and foster community ownership of the Second Street renovation project, Langley city officials recently turned over the installation of landscaping to the Langley Main Street Association.
Aside from the cost of materials — budgeted at $20,000 — the city is getting the labor for free as the Association is doing the work as volunteers, saving city taxpayers more than $10,000 in labor costs, according to Jeff Arango, director of Community Planning. Main Street will handle the long-term maintenance, adding even more savings to city coffers.
“It’s a big win-win,” Arango said.
Langley initially had a fully developed landscaping plan completed by project designers, calling for installation by a paid firm. Later conversations with Association officials, however, revealed the organization was willing to take on the project.
In an April 7 meeting, the Langley City Council approved a contract, giving them the official green light to move ahead.
Arango said the association is the logical choice for the landscaping portion of the project.
“Since they’re the ones primarily involved with doing that work now, it seemed like a good fit and a good way to build support for the project and community involvement,” Arango said.
The city started the design for the project in spring of 2012.
The Second Street project is aimed at addressing infrastructure issues with a new street, replacing old water lines and installing an upgraded storm water system. It also provided the chance to redesign and improve the functionality of the street for both citizens and cars. Placemaking elements to strengthen the character and identity that Langley has become known for are also included in the plan.
The goal is to provide a better balance between vehicular mobility access and parking, in addition to improved pedestrian mobility and comfort. The sidewalks will be widened to ten feet on both sides of the street. A new central plaza space with seating, lighting, public art and landscaping is also part of the plan. A large rain garden will be constructed to handle the storm water flows in a more environmentally friendly method.
The project is scheduled to be completed in June.
Janet Ploof, president of the Main Street Association, said the landscaping project will create camaraderie within the community and ensure that money stays local. There is a perception that a small town is more expensive to shop in, but this is not always true, she said.
Arango believes there are benefits to using local resources.
“Since it’s the folks who will also be maintaining it, they will have more buy-in to the overall long-term plan,” he said. “So there is certainly a benefit in that and I think there will be more ownership of the project because they will be maintaining a plan that they developed and installed.”