Better Block Event

The city of McAlester recently completed on a sample of the streetscape design at the northeast corner of Choctaw Ave. and First Street where you will see a new raised plant bed and way-finding signs directing the community to the Courthouse and City Hall, as well as, a brick bike lane between the sidewalk and parking spots.

The city of McAlester, McAlester Main Street and the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) are scheduled to host a downtown visioning tour called the “Better Block” event from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30, on Choctaw Avenue in downtown McAlester.

The event is intended to give McAlester residents an idea of what downtown McAlester will look like after the new streetscape design is implemented on Choctaw Avenue.

McAlester Main Street Executive Director Christina Hermsmeyer said the event will give community members a chance to help see how the new streetscape should look.

“A better block event is a build out of what a completed streetscape in this area is going to look like,” Hermsmeyer said. “It’s really important that community members come and take a look at it and give us their input.”

Hermsmeyer said the highlights for the new streetscape plan include a permanent bandstand on First Street, narrowed street with wider sidewalks, a brick bike lane, trees and raised planting beds, new black light poles with LED lighting, ADA compliance and sewer and drain improvements.

The city of McAlester recently completed on a sample of the streetscape design at the northeast corner of Choctaw Avenue and First Street where you will see a new raised plant bed and way-finding signs directing the community to the Courthouse and City Hall, as well as, a brick bike lane between the sidewalk and parking spots.

TSET Wellness Coordinator Michelle Mabray said TSET is invested in the project as a way to see people becoming more active downtown and utilizing bike lines to offer alternative transportation.

“We are taking a strong investment in downtown to create an opportunity for people to walk and bike and become more active,” Mabray said.

The set-up for the event will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 29, and event coordinators are looking for any volunteers willing to help make the event possible.

“We will block a portion of the street that evening to begin setting up,” Mabray said. “Volunteers will meet on Choctaw Avenue to create the mock streetscape design.”

Mabray said volunteers from TSET, the Department of Health and Main Street communities from across the state will be joining together to help bring this vision to life.

“We are asking community members to join us in helping set up the mock version of the streetscape,” Mabray said. “We will be extending the side walks, adding trees, creating a mock bike lane and reconfiguring the parking.”

Mabray said the set-up will be somewhat chaotic but it is just a temporary way to show the community of what the vision will be and experience what parking and extended side-walks will feel like.

She added stores on Choctaw Avenue are encouraged to do special sales and there will be live music during the event, as well as several food trucks and Compass Pizza and Sugar Daisy bakery will be also be available for dinner during the event.

Guest speaker Ron Drake –author of “Flip This Town” — will address the community on the benefits of downtown improvements and the possibilities of upper floor living and the benefits it would bring to McAlester, First Reality Real Estate Agent Cully Stevens will also address the community about investment in the downtown area and redevelopment opportunities and McAlester City Manager Pete Stasiak will give an overview of the First Street construction plan and how the plan will extend down Choctaw Avenue.

Pride in McAlester Executive Director Stephanie Giacomo and Genealogical Society member David Beall will discuss the history of McAlester and McAlester Main Street Board President Christi John will close out the event with an overview of the McAlester Main Street Association and its goals.

Mabray added that the event will be a kick-start to the McAlester Main Street capital campaign for anyone wishing to invest in the overall streetscape project.

“Anyone wishing to make an investment can make a pledge that evening,” Mabray said. “A cost analysis will be broken down of the overall project so everyone can see how much each part will cost.”

“This is a great way for the community to become involved,” Mabray said.

For more information contact McAlester Main Street at 918-423-8888.

Contact Lacey Sudderth at lsudderth@mcalesternews.com