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Monmouth to Try Again for Downtown Improvement Grant

Aug 10, 2019

Monmouth would like to beautify its downtown square but cannot afford the project without funding assistance through a grant program.

“We’re projecting about a $1.2 million project. So we’re looking at perhaps somewhere around a $1 million grant application and $200,000 of local matching funds for the project,” said City Administrator Lew Steinbrecher.

“It (the project) is contingent upon receiving the grant funds.”

Credit Courtesy the city of Monmouth

He said the city will apply for a competitive federal grant that is administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) through its Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP). The city applied a couple years ago but IDOT turned down the request, saying the city should first do a preliminary engineering design plan.

Steinbrecher said Hutchison Engineering has now completed that plan.  He said the goal is to “soften” the appearance of the four quadrants of the square. 

“If you look at our quadrants now where the parking lots are located, it’s all asphalt and concrete. There is no greenery. There are no decorative streetscape features,” said Steinbrecher.

The proposed improvements include:

  • Additional greenspace
  • Benches
  • Decorative street lamps
  • Creation of boulevards to reduce traffic from two lanes to one at the downtown roundabout to improve pedestrian safety
  • Rainwater gardens to assist in mandated EPA regulations
  • Additional sidewalk space to accommodate outdoor activities

Steinbrecher said December 6 is the deadline for submitting the grant application. He said it will likely be another five or six months after that before the city learns whether it will receive the money.

He said if IDOT awards a grant to Monmouth, the city will begin work on a detailed engineering plan and the bid specifications. He said that means construction likely would not start until spring, 2021.

The city has worked on the project and grant application for the past five months. It held a kickoff meeting in March, stakeholder advisory committee meetings in April and May, and an open house in June.