CUMBERLAND — Cumberland Mayor Ray Morriss and the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to accept new design plans created for the downtown pedestrian mall.
The streetscape plans were developed by the Frederick-based Cochran Studios.
The city needs to replace aging underground utility lines and install modern broadband fiber optics. Once the subterranean work is completed, the streetscape plans will be used to transform the mall visually and create a flexible space for events and outdoor dining.
The plans include reinstalling Baltimore Street running one way from Mechanic Street to George Street. The total price tag for the project, both below and above ground, is estimated to be between $5 million and $7.4 million.
The vote to approve the plans occurred at Tuesday’s regular meeting of the mayor and council at City Hall.
“I was there when we saw the design for the first time,” Councilwoman Laurie Marchini said after the meeting. “It’s amazing William Cochran came up with a design that pleased everyone. It’s a beautiful vision of what our city could be.”
The plans depict a mall lined with alternating lamp posts and fast-growing trees that will form a canopy high above Baltimore Street. In addition, the parklet at the corner of Mechanic and Baltimore streets, as well as the McCoury Family Stage at Baltimore and Liberty streets, will be replaced with restive areas featuring trees and benches. The area at Liberty Street will also include a vertical waterfall attraction.
Morriss also spoke to the Times-News after the meeting.
“The overall plan is very good,” said Morriss. “You could tell the amount of work that went into. It took into account the history and tried to re-create what downtown Cumberland had been.
“The design plan creates a beautiful city center. One of the best things is the flexibility. You can close the street for events. It’s a place for residents and visitors to enjoy.”
About half of the funding for the project has been secured so far through state and federal grants. Officials say they should be able to obtain the entire amount needed.
The language in the motion said the plans, “incorporate design elements presented by Cochran Studios Inc. with contingencies.” Morriss explained that the contingencies are connected to the amount of funding ultimately secured.
“There are some contingencies based on the overall cost (that may be included if we have) the ability to fully fund the project,” said Morriss.
Marchini said reinstalling Baltimore Street will be a benefit.
“People can see if the places are open,” she said. “It also provides a limited number of parking spaces. It will give us that access that we haven’t had in a long time.”
City officials hope to break ground on the renovation plans sometime in 2020.