Jul. 13—For the last several months, most of the south side of the 300 block along Main Street has been vacant lots. The plan is to turn it into a commons area with pavilions and an outdoor stage. Officials say that plan has been a little slower coming together than hoped.
"It is coming along," said Daviess County Economic Development Executive Director Bryant Niehoff. "We had a minor adjustment to the design that is holding up the project a bit. It is a problem with the sewer system under the property. With it being an old downtown site, there has been a lot of construction over construction over construction. We are just trying to work through that. We should be getting the end of the design done soon."
The EDC is partnering with the city and the county on the project. Washington Mayor David Rhoads points out that delays like this are fairly common.
"There are some utility issues we have to deal with on every project and this one is no different. We will have to reroute some utilities for this project. It is just part of any project. We will need to reroute some of them, water, sewer and electric for this project to work properly," said Rhoads. "This property is going to be used in a different way. It is part of the process."
The mayor also points out that the engineering has not been the only challenge. He says the design of the project has gone through a number of adjustments.
"The design slowed it as much as anything," he said. "When you have a project of this size and you have several people putting in their ideas on the project it wound up getting changed a couple of times. We had people from the city and the county and some other groups giving their thoughts and that led to some of those changes, probably for the better. Then the EDC bought the laundromat and took it down. Then we decided instead of doing it in two phases that we should try to do it all in one phase. That also slowed down the design some."
In a society where people expect fast and instant results, Rhoads points out that projects cannot happen overnight. They require years of planning and work. The Commons project is no exception.
"A lot of times projects just don't move as quickly as you would like," said Rhoads. "The whole process, any project takes time to get it from the start to the finish line. It's moved slower than we wanted but we are getting there."
In fact, the mayor believes the project could be getting started yet this fall.
"We have a meeting next month where design will be presented," said Rhoads. "If the design is approved and the budget is OK, we should be close to starting. I think we could still get some dirt turning yet this fall. It will probably take a year to complete. It's been a long time coming. We have been working on this for probably two years."