PIQUA — The Piqua City Commission unanimously approved design services to redesign Lock 9 Park during their meeting Tuesday evening.
The contract will be with Gamble Associates Architecture and Urban Planning, which completed the initial phase of the design development process for the redevelopment of that area on the riverfront. According to City Manager Gary Huff, they have extensive knowledge and understanding of the proposed improvements. The cost is not to exceed $124,500.
The commission spoke for half an hour on the project. City Planner Chris Schmiesing provided an overview of where the city has come from, with the origins of the idea based in the 2007 Plan-It Piqua plans and the Redo Piqua documents that named the riverfront as an area targeted for redevelopment and improvement.
“We’ve dubbed the project the Place-Making Initiative,” Schmiesing said. “And it really is about connecting the public spaces in the downtown and creating a high sense of quality in those public spaces so that it becomes a place that is attractive and inviting and a place that people want to experience and visit.”
The goal of redesigning Lock 9 Park is to provide a quality place for residents to enjoy, for events to be held, and for people outside of the city to visit. The hope is that it will increase the quality of life for residents and drive economic tourism as well as private investment in the area, such as finding developers for the Zollinger and old Mo’s Lounge buildings.
The timeline of events for the whole redevelopment of Lock 9 Park includes the construction documents being created this year. In 2017, the city will move onto phase II, which includes the utility relocation and site preparation. In 2018, the city hopes to begin the actual construction and redevelopment.
“I do believe that the riverfront development is a game changer for the city,” City Manager Gary Huff said. “I think the future for Piqua, with this, is tremendous.”
“People want to be connected to a place,” Mayor Kazy Hinds said, commending the project.
Commissioner Bill Vogt voiced some concerns on the project. “I’ve had two calls on this,” he said. “Why are we spending all this money when, right now, what we have right there is a park?”
Huff compared this project to the redevelopment of the Fort Piqua Plaza.
“That’s exactly what’s going to happen here,” Huff said. “We really need to make some things start to happen.”
“This $120,000 is nothing but paper,” Vogt said.
Huff said that the construction documents are necessary to be able to bid out the construction portion of the project.
The total cost of the project is expected to be approximately $4 million. Huff said it will be funded with city funds that are not being utilized or needed elsewhere, along with grants for which the city is applying.
David Gamble, principal of Gamble Associates Architecture and Urban Planning, also spoke during the meeting, explaining that cities across the country are looking to projects like this to make themselves stand out. Gamble said that the city’s connection to its history with the canal system as well as its proximity to the river make Piqua unique.
“People all across the country are dying to get access to their water supply,” Gamble said, adding that parks are catalysts for redevelopment and private investment.
“The impact will be enormous,” Gamble said. “This will be transformative to the city.”
Huff commended the commission for approving this resolution, calling it “historic.”
The commission also held the second reading of an ordinance that will amend the city code in reference to taxicabs. The ordinance updates the language in the city code to reflect changes in the state law that address companies like Uber and Lyft.
City Attorney Stacy Wall said that the state is regulating brands like Uber separately from other taxicab companies and that this ordinance was not inspired by any incident in the city.
The current legislation that the city has is also outdated. This ordinance updates definitions of what qualifies as a taxicab or a transportation network company. A license will also be required to operate a taxicab or similar entity, and the city will issue them.
The commission later approved tax rates for the city as determined by the Miami County Budget Commission.
The commission also read a resolution of appreciation for the public service of Roger Wehrman, who has retired as substation and generation manager with the Piqua Power System after 30 years of working with the city.
“Thank you so much for your years of service to the city of Piqua,” Hinds said.
Wehrman thanked the commission and the city, commending the people that he worked with during his employment.
“I’ve worked with some excellent people and some hardworking people,” Wehrman said. He also commended city managers that he worked under, saying that residents should be proud to have Huff.
Wehrman commented on the Future Piqua documents that were created in the 1980’s and the progress that the city has made to improve.
“It was amazing that everything on there from 30 years ago was done,” Wehrman said. “You ought to applaud yourselves.”
Reach Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336