Although there were several grand ideas to be considered, when it came time to make a decision, the Bingen City Council was unanimous: Depot Street needs to get paved.
"In the past, we've tried to promise we would do that," said council member Randy Anderson. "It would show businesses we're serious about fixing that up."
Meeting on Dec. 16, council members faced an upcoming Dec. 22 deadline to put in a request for grants from the Klickitat County Economic Development Authority (EDA).
Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel estimated that basic paving for approximately four blocks of Depot Street -- from Maple to Walnut -- would cost approximately $50,000. However, the council does not intend to ask for the entire amount.
According to Mayor Prigel, since it would cost between $25,000-$30,000 to pave two blocks -- half of the project -- that is the figure the city will request from the EDA.
The county has made $250,000 available for communities around the county for 2004. The annual grant fund comes from revenue generated via the regional landfill in Roosevelt. Generally, each community makes two requests, with at least one of them usually gaining funding.
Councilor Laura Mann asked if striping would be included in the project.
"We wouldn't stripe it like a two-lane road, but we would want to stripe it as a fire lane to keep it clear," Prigel responded. "It is important to at least get it to a functional level. This doesn't get us to where we want to ultimately go, but it's a step in the right direction."
The street will be surveyed before the paving begins to ensure no private property is encroached upon.
Mann said she supported paving Depot Street, and agreed it should be ranked number one.
"I agree with Randy," Mann explained. "This is an important project based on the concerns of a lot of business owners. It has been mentioned throughout the entire project regarding parking concerns and traffic concerns. That's my vote."
Bingen City Clerk Jan Brending said the paving project would provide tangible benefits to the city.
"Depot Street has real community development potential and it ties in to economic development," Brending said.
Larry Murphy also thought the paving project made the most sense.
"My two most important projects would be work on Depot Street and money to get more businesses to come in," Murphy said.
Disagreement surfaced regarding the city's second priority, however.
"It's very important to market for businesses, but that needs to be structured. We didn't do that in time for these funds," Mann responded.
Prigel added that there is likely to be a natural boost once the downtown beatification and State Route 14 paving is completed.
"When this downtown project is done, we might see momentum and interest generated on its own," Prigel said. "I think the ideal timing is when we finish paving it and open it up and invite the business community in."
Banners to welcome tourists to town and during the Christmas holiday season were strongly considered as the city's second priority.
According to Jan Brending, Bingen city clerk, two different sets of 40 banners each would be purchased, at an estimated cost of $8,000.
Mann suggested making the banners the city's second priority for 2004.
But before a vote on the banners could be taken, council member Jeanette Fentie came up with a new idea.
"I have a suggestion," Fentie said. "How about fencing for the recycling center? I like the banners, but I'd really hate to see that facility go away. It's very good for the community."
Mayor Prigel said that if the recycling area was to be fenced, it made sense to fence the entire city shop area that adjoins where the recycling bins are located.
"I'd propose fencing jointly for the city shop and recycling center," Prigel said.
Prigel said it would probably cost about $15,000 to adequately fence the area.
"The chances are the second choice will not be funded, but it's nice to have it there," Prigel said.
The selection of Depot Street was agreed to by all five council members, while the fencing project was approved as a second choice on a 4-1 vote.
Other ideas that didn't make the cut included a picnic shelter for Daubenspeck Park, a ramp for disabled citizens at the Gorge Heritage Museum, funds for an animal control facility, and financial support for the Community Youth Center.
Prigel said he hoped Depot Street could be prepped for paving by early spring.
"Then as soon as warm weather comes in late April, we'd be ready to go," Prigel said.