PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend Main Street program will host an information session on the Water Street enhancement project to keep business owners updated on the major downtown construction project.
The Main Street program organizes quarterly Merchant Coffee meet-ups in order to build community and share information with city business owners, and Wednesday’s meeting will include a presentation from city staff on the major rehabilitation of Water Street from the ferry landing to Taylor Street.
“It’s just to keep downtown and uptown merchants in the loop,” said Mari Mullen, Port Townsend Main Street Program executive director.
Coffee and bagels will be served at the Cotton Building, 607 Water St., starting at 8:30 a.m. The cost for Main Street members is $5 but non-members are also invited for $7.
City of Port Townsend civil engineer Laura Parsons will present the current plans for the south section of Water Street, which are the culmination of information gathered throughout months using online surveys and two open houses.
The largest part of the project will be underground. The 80-year-old sewer lines running under Water Street are due to be replaced.
The project also will put in infrastructure that will see overhead utilities such as power lines moved underground by 2020.
“People are pretty excited about that,” Parsons said. “Businesses in downtown have had issues, mostly due to the old pipes, and those will go away once the new pipes are in place.”
More visibly, the project will also revamp the sidewalks along Water Street to bring them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“It’ll be nice to be able to say downtown is accessible and fully code compliant,” Parsons said.
The project is estimated to cost $2.8 million.
The project also will make downtown a more cohesive space, according to Mullen, because the sidewalks will then match those at the north end of Water Street.
The project also will resize parking spaces in downtown to make them more uniform and will transform the small parking lot at the end of Tyler Street into a pedestrian area with beach access. Seating there will be lit with string lights at night.
“We’ve seen mostly positive feedback on the project,” Parsons said. “I think people really see the need.”
The project is still on schedule to break ground in January and will be completed by June 2018, so as to not disturb summer tourism too much.
“Mostly people are concerned with when exactly the project will be in front of their business and that’s not something we can predict just yet,” Mullen said.
The Main Street Program is partnering with the city to create a marking project that is aimed at bringing more people, especially locals, into downtown despite the construction.
“That’ll be a time where we’re really going to ask our locals to come support those local businesses,” Mullen said. “We just really want to keep everyone informed. After it’s all done it’s going to be beautiful and will preserve our town for the next 50 years.”