City officials hope to begin the second phase of revitalization work on Salem's Essex Street Pedestrian Mall in early spring.
The Salem Redevelopment Authority (SRA) voted, 4-0, on Tuesday night to approve the design by Boston-based firms Utile, Inc. and Landworks Studio. Redevelopment authority member Russell Vickers was absent.
The goal of the facelift is to "open up" the area by creating clearer sight lines and smoother flow of foot traffic on the brick-and-cobblestone thoroughfare that runs between Washington Street and the Peabody Essex Museum.
The first phase of work, which took place in August and September, focused on removing landscaping beds that obstructed pedestrian views and walking paths, and replacing them with tables and chairs. The second phase of work includes replacing seven unhealthy trees, removing two more planters, removing a kiosk, and relocating mailboxes.
Some of the cobblestone that juts out in "tabs" from the cobblestone sections will be replaced with brick, and sections of damaged, sunken cobblestone near Rockafella's, and in front of Bernard's Jewelers, will be reset.
According to City Planner Lynn Duncan, no major changes to the design took place between the approval of the Design Review Board in October, and Tuesday's meeting.
The architects did sufficiently addressed two specific points between the meeting in October and the meeting with the authority. The Design Review Board had asked for a closer look at the base of the historic fountain at the Washington Street end - which will be drastically reduced in size - to address possible tripping hazards. They also asked that new street lights be shielded on the side facing buildings to keep the light out of residences.
An exact budget for the second phase of work has not been finalized, but an estimated $60,000 was spent during the first phase of work, and the entire project is being funded by the city.
Duncan is optimistic that the work will be completed before the summer tourist season kicks off.
Ryan Mooney can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mooney_ryan.