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Artesia City Council Pushes for Pioneer Boulevard Improvement Plan

By Rico Dizon

The Pioneer Boulevard Improvement Project is still very much alive.

“We want to bring back shoppers to downtown Artesia and invest in a project that will make our city more vibrant and pedestrian-friendly,” said Mayor Pro Tem Miguel Canales.

At the special joint meeting of the Artesia City Council and the Successor Agency last Monday, Nov. 11, an hour prior to the regular City Council meeting, Deputy City Manager Justine Menzel presented the Status Report on the Pioneer Boulevard Improvement Project.

“From our September and May meetings, I will be presenting Conceptual Plan E which consists of three final designs from two professional designers detailing the landscape plans, two civil plans and an overview of the smaller plans,” Menzel said. As she went on, she showed via the screen and paper illustrations, cross sections of projected parkways, sidewalks, pedestrian walk and promenade, emergency vehicle access including amenities like parkway furniture/benches, accent trees and additional lightings.

Although Menzel did not touch on the previous questions of consistency with the city’s general plan including safety, vehicular and pedestrian traffic, as well as environmental issue (CEQA), it is presumed that the project had hurdled all roadblocks now and it can continue to move forward.

When City Council Ali Taj asked whether the area would be wi-fi accessible, City Manager William Rawlings replied, “it is not in the current plan but we can do so and have a separate study.” After curious queries from City Council Member Sally Flowers, Rawlings explained, “music can be added when we put up the enhanced lighting which will be adjusted to just 60 ft. intervals from the present 100 ft. intervals.”

Asked by Flowers if the existing bulb-outs shall be demolished and changed, Rawlings said, “the bulb-outs are difficult to see, we will create parking pockets instead.” He also added that there will be three cross-walks on the street to make it more pedestrian-friendly.” Canales exclaimed, “it looks great, great for the merchants and the city.”

In regard to the more pressing questions of when it will finally start and be completed, the city manager said, “On the electrical and lighting we can start in January and have it installed in 30 to 60 days. We are now studying the current contract with Griffin Co., upon final agreement, we can finish the whole project within six months.”

In closing, Mayor Tony Lima said, “It adds value to the city. It’s either we make good use of the old redevelopment funds for this great project or loose the money, period.”

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