Mesa is moving forward with plans for a $521,000 lighted and landscaped pathway to link the Mesa Arts Center with parking lots and city facilities to the north.
The City Council on Thursday also supported plans to add 60 diagonal parking spaces on First Street through the downtown area.
The council voted 6-0 at its study session to move both projects ahead to the Feb. 7 council meeting, where official votes will take place on accepting a grant for the pathway and altering First Street.
The $521,908 pathway will primarily be funded by a $481,503 federal grant administered by the Arizona Department of Transportation. The city will be required to contribute an estimated $40,405 to this phase of the project.
The cost includes the phase from Main Street — starting at the crosswalk in front of the Mesa Arts Center — north along Lewis Street, through an existing city parking lot and ending at First Street. Lewis Street is east of Center Street and the main city government building.
This price includes new lighting, sidewalk improvements, landscaping and street furniture to Pepper Place, with a scaled-back version from Pepper Place to First Street.
If the council chooses to continue the same look from Pepper Place to First Street, the cost would increase by an estimated $186,000.
The city also has applied for additional grants to extend the pathway from First Street to the Mesa Amphitheatre, said Patrick Murphy, senior town center development specialist.
"It’s not just about the arts center, it’s about getting people around," Vice Mayor Claudia Walters said.
The council vote on Feb. 7 will be to enter into an agreement with ADOT to receive the grant. The vote on the design and construction contract will come at a later date.
The pathway will eliminate 32 parking spaces and will close Lewis Street to traffic heading north from Main Street.
"The lost spaces are more than compensated with what we get with a pedestrian walkway," said Councilman Kyle Jones, who represents the downtown area.
The proposed First Street traffic changes would reduce the travel lanes from two to one in each direction and lower the speed limit from 35 to 30 mph.
In November, the council expressed concerns about the pathway project, especially the reduction of parking spaces. Councilman Tom Rawles was the most outspoken, using adjectives such as "misguided, ill-advised, obscene, absurd and asinine" to describe the project. Rawles was absent from Thursday’s study session.