Councilmembers approved a $75,000 agreement with Walker Consultants to prepare the Downtown Vision and Policy Plan at the May 3 Winters City Council meeting.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020 it stifled downtown tourist, dining and business activity. In response, the city moved to do what it could do to help ease the suffering. With the cooperation of the Winters Downtown Business Association, that fall the city built lighted outdoor dining pergolas on Main Street with COVID-19 relief funds.
The city also started closing off a portion of downtown Main Street to permit outdoor dining and assembly. For the most part, these actions have been well-received, however, certain areas were noted to need further review and evaluation.
In November, the city issued a request for proposal (RFP) seeking bids from qualified consultants to help build upon past efforts, expand successes and revision the five block core downtown area.
Two consultant firms were reported to have responded to the RFP. After interviews with city staff, Walker Consultants was recommended to prepare the Downtown Vision and Policy Plan.
Walker Consultants is an employee-owned firm with offices throughout the country that provides parking, operations, technology and mobility solutions.
City Council adopted Resolution 2022-38, awarding a $75,000 personal services agreement to Walker Consultants last Tuesday. The scope of work involves creating a baseline community vision, review and analysis of current conditions, recommendations to improve parking conditions and alternatives, enhanced use of spaces, wayfinding, community and stakeholder engagement and trash management.
The review and infrastructure recommendations are necessary to evaluate and manage improvements to bring more visitors into downtown.
A major component of the revisioning process, as stressed by Mayor Wade Cowan, is to ensure that ample community engagement and input opportunities are made available.
Accordingly, both business owners and community members and community members will have multiple opportunities for input by way of online surveys, city council and planning commission public meetings and public presentations. Community outreach will be in both English and Spanish.
Funding of the agreement will come from the American Rescue Plan funds to the 2022-23 fiscal year operating budget.
The city anticipates Walker Consultants will commence within 30 days of contract execution, and Walker Consultants estimates a timeframe of eight months to process and develop the plan.