gOING Back to square 1?

GREENFIELD — After months spent garnering feedback on a plan to spruce up the city’s main entrance, Greenfield officials have sent their design team back to the drawing board.

Residents had plenty to say about Blue Marble Design’s first two proposals, which featured steel pillars, decorative landscaping and brick and limestone columns. But there was little consensus among those who weighed in, leading city leaders to ask for a new option that combines the two.

The plan is to beautify the Interstate 70 and State Road 9 interchange, which is considered the main entrance to the city but has been criticized as largely unwelcoming.

This week, the Greenfield Board of Works and Public Safety approved a $179,000 contract with Blue Marble and a consultant team to start work on the final design, which city leaders expect to have in about six weeks.

City officials have been mulling the project for a few years, saying dressing up a main gateway into the city is important for economic development and tourism, as it serves as visitors’ first impression of Greenfield.

Right now, the intersection has nothing special to make visitors remember Greenfield, officials say, and beautifying the area by adding design elements and greenery would change that.

The project would be funded through tax-increment financing district funds, which come from businesses in the I-70 area; businesses pay property taxes into the TIF fund for infrastructure improvements in the area.

Blue Marble’s first concept featured decorative steel pillars and landscaping along the Greenfield exit off I-70 and through the median on State Road 9. The second combined brick and limestone decorative posts. It also included landscaping along the interstate and along the state highway.

Both include signs welcoming visitors to Greenfield. Currently, the first city sign off I-70 sits off the west side of the road at State Road 9 and New Road. A small sign promoting community clubs and organizations is posted south of the interchange.

City officials sought feedback from residents through a public meeting, when many said they liked elements from both of the original designs, said city engineer Karla Vincent. Some pointed to one design they liked better, while others wanted a mix between the two designs.

“After going through the public process, we kind of have to go back to square one,” she said. “Blue Marble will … put together something hopefully everyone will like.”

It will likely take at least six weeks for the design firm to create the new design, she said, but city officials will be able evaluate it and suggest changes before a final rendering is approved.

Board of Works member Kathy Locke said, like many residents, she liked elements from both designs, and she’s pleased Blue Marble will work to create a final design that combines the two.

Mayor Chuck Fewell said it was important for officials to seek input from the public, and they don’t mind going back to the drawing board.

“This is going to be a golden gateway into Greenfield,” he said. “We want to make sure (residents) are happy with what they see.”

Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.