Improvements projects planning

Audrain County Commissioners and members of a citizens input committee met with an engineer and design team Tuesday to review plans to improve the courthouse landscape and Mexico Village Square. Work is still being done on the project. The group hopes to have something finalized soon.
Engineer Tary Todd with the Cochran Civil Engineering Co., out of Sunset Hills, and Landscaper and Designer Tricia Kleinheider provided the group with design improvements for each side of the courthouse grounds. The main components of the streetscape improvements include installation of decorative sidewalks and curb in accordance with ADA guidelines, cleaning and repairs to the courthouse building, restoration of the Lady Liberty statue, electrical improvements, monuments, a drinking fountain, re-grading and landscaping of the grounds.
The design will be conducted in two phases. The first phase includes gathering of information, reviewing the topographic survey information provided by the county, building the initial 3D model of the courthouse grounds, and meetings with the citizens group. The purpose of Tuesday's meeting was to explore the possibilities and better define the scope of the improvements. Once the scope is determined, a preliminary cost estimate will be prepared.
The second phase of the project will be to design and prepare construction plans and specifications for the improvements, including a complete set of bidding documents. A grant application will be prepared for submittal to the Missouri Department of Transportation to apply for a federally funded Enhancement Grant, to help fund the project.
Copies of the design renderings will be placed in the courthouse rotunda, to solicit public suggestions and comments. Commissioners are uncertain if any future public hearings will be held.
Western District Commissioner Tom Groves said he is anxious to get the project started, to prevent a loss of interest. He suggested the possibilities of seeking a small interest loan to complete the work, versus applying for MoDOT assistance – which could take up to four years for approval.
“Our initial thought was for this to be a MoDOT funded project, but I personally would like to see something done sooner,” Groves said. The commissioner referred to the 60-year-old courthouse as a “house that needs sprucing up.”
“We want to make something memorable and give the people of Audrain County and Mexico something they can be proud of,” he said.
Downtown merchants Lana Baclesse (owner of Merle Norman Cosmetics and Gift Gallery) and Ann Stubblefield (owner of Stubblefield Furniture), both sit on the citizens committee, and believe the courthouse project could also have a trickling effect on “Dream City” efforts.
“When this is all new and shiny,” Designer Kleinheider told the group. “Neighboring businesses and property owners will start investing.”
What's next?
Cochran is still working on the design, and plans to add all the suggestions made by the committee during Tuesday’s meeting. The company also plans to talk with MoDOT officials about the department's timeline for grant funding, to determine how the project will be funded.