Vision Iola officials share specifics



July 8, 2010 - 12:00 AM

As the community gathers Friday evening to remember a part of Iola’s past with the Charley Melvin Mad Bomber Run For Your Life, a group of visitors will be on hand to show what Iola can hope for in the future.
Carisa McMullen and Dale Stafford of Landworks Studio have worked extensively with the city and Thrive Allen County over the past year to create the Vision Iola plan.
The group met publicly at several sessions from January to June to look at three primary areas — community identity and signage; enhancing Iola’s downtown business district; and improving the usability and purpose of Iola’s parks and trails system, including sidewalks.
The results from the Vision Iola process will be available at a booth Friday evening during the Melvin activities. McMullen, owner of the Olathe-based Landworks, and Dale Stafford, a Landworks designer, will have information and their proposals on all three topics at the booth, along with free cotton candy for passersby.

AMONG THEIR proposals:
The city would be better served with clearer, more vibrant signs to better guide out-of-towners through Iola. The proposal includes primary and secondary wayfinding signs, banners for street poles and perhaps a monument sign on the edge of town.
The designs favored most by Iolans included background images depicting Iola’s downtown square buildings, incorporating a mixture of bright colors and more reserved earth tones.
The downtown area, meanwhile, can be accentuated with benches, trees and containers full of colorful flowers.
Trees and benches would provide a respite for shoppers and strollers without hampering traffic flow to any of the businesses or blocking view of the city’s historic buildings.
Bulb-outs — sidewalk extensions at each intersection around the courthouse square — would serve two purposes: cutting by nearly in half the distance pedestrians would have to walk to cross the street, and to provide space for added landscape designs.
 A strip of pavers, or colored blocks, would create a highly visible and more attractive walking space.
The one drawback to the design — losing as many as four parking spaces on each side of the square — is mitigated because the bulb-outs would entice motorists to park on the opposite side of the street to get to various businesses.
Recreational opportunities in Iola could be enhanced by developing a fishing and camping area near where South Washington Avenue meets Elm Creek, while a dog park could be easily implemented into an area near South State and West Irwin streets. Both items were cited most often in community surveys, McMullen noted.
The city also is in dire need of a park in the northeast part of town, while existing parks could stand improvements.

WITH information collection and official proposals complete, Landworks will now assist Thrive and the city in seeking out funding sources to pay for the projects.
Landworks officials also have pledged to participate in the 5-kilometer Mad Bomber Run, which starts at 12:26 a.m. Saturday.

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