downtown infrastructure concept graphic

Downtown Improvements Project Informational Update

PROJECT SITE LINK: Visit the project website for indepth information, data, presentations, and additional helpful project insight.

Upcoming Public Informational Meetings
Monday, January 30th, Keene Public Library, Heberton Hall, open house at 5:00 PM, presentation to follow.  
Tuesday, February 21st, at 6:00 PM at the Keene High School auditorium.  Presentation.


January 25, 2023 Update:

The images below show the extent of utility work proposed for the Downtown Infrastructure Improvement Project including drainage pipe, sewer pipe, water pipe, electric, telephone, and gas. (Some of the existing pipes, including those near the head of Central Square, were installed over 100 years ago.)  The pipes extend under roads and sidewalks to provide utility connections to the buildings, and range in diameter from 6 inches to 30 inches.  Replacing these systems will require digging trenches up to 8 feet wide and up to 10 feet deep.  Both the roads and sidewalks will require full reconstruction.

The next public informational meeting for the conceptual design phase of the project is scheduled Monday, 1/30/23, starting at 5PM at the Keene Public Library.

utility scope north image

 

utility scope south image

 

utility scope key

 


January 12, 2023 Video Update:

 


January 11, 2023 Update: 

Process Review, What Comes Next, & Timeline

Where are we in the process?

  • The Mayor’s Ad-Hoc Steering Committee reached a consensus recommendation for the major components of the project at their December 13, 2022, meeting.  Those recommendations were forwarded to the City Council, who will ultimately decide on the scope of the project.  This includes the utilities infrastructure that connects to downtown buildings underground to the full width of downtown sidewalks and roadways on Main Street, Gilbo Ave., Railroad St. and Central Square.  Because the sidewalks and roadways will already be excavated, the design process includes unique opportunities to consider reconstruction options that improve pedestrian ways, traffic flow, accessibility, multimodal options, and community space.

How did we get to this point in the project?

  • The Capital Improvement Program (CIP) review process starts with City staff presenting detailed recommendations to the City Council for projects that address the priority capital needs of the City.  Each CIP approval process includes project proposals, public hearings and City Council adoption via the budget process.  This particular project was added to the CIP in 2017 and each year thereafter with the explanation that the existing infrastructure has exceeded its useful life or is under capacity and that it provides an opportunity to update space for community activity into the long term.  Most recently, it was included in the fiscal years 2023 to 2029 CIP budget that was reviewed and adopted by the City Council last spring.
     
  • The Ad-Hoc Downtown Infrastructure Project Steering Committee was created with the City Council’s approval in March, 2022, to review the scope and design of utility replacements as well as improvements to the downtown area.  Its first monthly public meeting convened in April, 2022.  There were twelve members on the committee including representatives of downtown businesses and residents as well as members of the City Council.  The committee held its last meeting in December, 2022, where it advanced the preliminary design concept recommendation to the City Council.  The committee’s agendas and minutes can be viewed at https://keenenh.gov/downtown-infrastructure-project-steering-committee, and the detailed presentations made by the consultant, Stantec, at these meetings are posted on the project website which is available from the www.KeeneNH.gov home page.
     
  • The Stantec team conducted traffic studies, infrastructure analyses and multiple public workshops that yielded the information necessary to share informed options with the steering committee and the general public.  City staff including Public Works, Emergency Services, Parking, Community Development, and Parks & Recreation representatives met with the Stantec team as well to review and discuss technical requirements.  Considerations for vehicular traffic (including emergency vehicles, buses and large trucks – see 11/15/22 presentation) pedestrian ways, parking, multimodal options, and community space were informed by this work. 

What comes next?

  • The Council will be reviewing the preliminary design concept recommended by the steering committee and will participate in a number of public informational sessions before a decision on the scope of the project is made.  Once the Council has decided what improvements will be constructed, the final design process will begin for all aspects of the project. 
     
  • Two public informational meetings are scheduled at this time including 1) January 30th, 2023, at the Keene Public Library (Heberton Hall) starting with an open house at 5:00 PM where City Staff and representatives of Stantec will be present to answer questions one-on-one with members of the public followed by a brief presentation and further opportunities for the public to learn more and ask questions; and 2) February 21st, at 6:00 PM at the Keene High School auditorium including a presentation on the scope of the various options in the project, a roll-up of the public comments received at the first meeting, and an opportunity to provide further comments.

Downtown Project Timeline Image


 

January 5, 2023 Update:

The City of Keene is in the design phase of the Downtown Infrastructure Improvement and Reconstruction Project.  The ad hoc Downtown Infrastructure Project Steering Committee has conducted an initial review and public input process and recommended a preliminary design concept to the City Council.  The information included in this document provides an overview of project information to address common questions, and the public is encouraged to visit the project website to review analyses, findings, concepts, background information and input opportunities.  The preliminary design will undergo further review by the City Council, and there will be additional opportunities for public participation.

  • Why is this project happening now?  The age and condition of current downtown underground infrastructure risks costly and disruptive failure.  Further delay of infrastructure repair and replacement risks the ability to meet the continued needs of downtown businesses, residents and visitors.  Discussions for the Downtown Infrastructure Improvement and Reconstruction Project began in 2017 and were put on hold and delayed several years due to COVID.

  • 75% of the total project cost is going to underground utilities.  This will include disrupting the roadway and sidewalks spanning Main Street from building face to building face.  There is a cost to rebuild the streets and sidewalks that will be borne regardless of whether it is returned to its current state or involves improvements such as sidewalk expansion, bike lanes, green space, etc., and the cost difference between all of the options at this preliminary stage is anticipated to be minimal.
     
  • Our beautiful, unique and historic Central Square keeps its gazebo, statue, water fountain, cannon and green space in the current design concept.  The design expands Central Square from 17,450 square feet to 31,400 square feet by adding sidewalk and community space between the UCC church and the gazebo.Central Square Concept Rendering Image
  • Central Square Parking - the parking spaces removed on the north side of Central Square between Washington Street and Court Street would be replaced by parking spaces added to each side of the Central Square expansion area.
     
  • Project duration is not impacted by which design options are eventually approved by the City Council.  The project will take three years to complete.  Pending the timing of final design approval, phase one construction (Central Square) would begin in spring, 2024, phase two construction (Main Street from and including Gilbo Avenue and Railroad Street up to Roxbury Street) would begin in spring, 2025, and phase three construction (Main Street from Gilbo Avenue and Railroad Street down to Water Street) would begin in spring, 2026.
     
  • Traffic pattern - multiple options were studied to identify possible improvements to the queueing of traffic in downtown.  Traffic was observed to identify current patterns and wait times at Central Square intersections which informed multiple design options - including no changes, traffic lights, one way traffic, or a mini roundabout.  The mini roundabout design provides significant improvement to the flow of pedestrian and vehicle traffic and reduces wait times from all streets - Main Street, Roxbury Street, Washington Street, Court Street and West Street.Downtown Traffic Conditions Image
  • The current design concept takes into consideration the placement of accessible parking spaces and accessible pedestrian facilities throughout the Downtown Main Street corridor. Multi-modal facilities, including protected bicycle facilities, public transit facilities, and open spaces will be accessible to all.  Opportunities to address barriers along the existing sidewalks and public spaces within the public realm will be fully considered during the final design phase of the project.  City Parking staff have participated in the design process and will continue to do so.
     
  • All design options have carefully accommodated the needs of emergency service vehicles to allow quick navigation, including the mini roundabout, and City emergency services staff have participated in the technical review process.
     
  • Downtown Events - the design concept includes an expansion of Central Square, improved traffic pattern, and Gilbo-to-Railroad crosswalk enhancement that lend very well to the coordination of safe community events (such as festivals) that minimize traffic diversions and provide additional gathering space. 
     
  • The final design approval will be made by the City Council.  There will be additional opportunities for the City Council and the public to learn more about the project scope and design prior to final approval. 
     
  • Project funding will include a variety of sources beyond general taxation including grants, water and sewer fees, and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts.
     
  • Downtown businesses, property owners and abutters have all been informed about the project via written communications.  The consultant for the project, Stantec, and City staff have met with most of the downtown property owners and visited the properties.  In addition, over 12,000 mailers were sent to inform community members of the project and opportunities to provide input.  Multiple in-person public workshops have also taken place at Railroad Square, in City Hall, and in the Colonial Showroom, and online opportunities have been - and continue to be - available to view the project information in detail and provide input (follow link from KeeneNH.gov).  Email addresses for approximately 165 businesses are also included in announcements for public input opportunities.  The public process to date also included meetings of the ad hoc Downtown Infrastructure Project Steering Committee with members representing the City Council, downtown businesses and residents, Bicycle/Pedestrian Path Advisory Committee, Keene Downtown Group and Keene State College.  The committee reviewed the project scope and design of utility replacements as well as improvements to the downtown area and heard from numerous members of the public in attendance at their meetings.  View the most recent Steering Committee presentation on the project website – this is a very informative presentation with drawings, data, and key takeaways.
     
  • As design alternatives are considered there will be additional opportunities for public input. Participation in City public meetings, forums, surveys and all public input opportunities is important and encouraged. 

    On Monday, January 30th, starting with an open house at 5:00 PM, City Staff and representatives of Stantec will be present to answer questions one-on-one with members of the public.  At 6:00 PM there will be a brief presentation and further opportunities for the public to learn more and ask questions.  Comment cards will be available for the public’s use. 

    A second public informational meeting will take place on Tuesday, February 21st, at 6:00 PM at the Keene High School auditorium.  The evening will include a presentation on the scope of the various options in the project and a roll-up of the public comments received at the first meeting.  The public will also be provided an opportunity to provide further comments at this meeting.

    The best way to get detailed project information and learn about upcoming public meetings and events is the project website (
    KeeneNH.gov, click the "Downtown Infrastructure Improvement & Reconstruction" photo link).  Notices are also posted to the City Facebook page (@CityKeene) and City Instagram feed (@city_of_keene).  Phone calls may be directed to Keene Public Works, (603) 352-6550.
     
  • Keene's beautiful, historic downtown has evolved over the years… decades… century… to meet the needs of the community.  In each evolution, the priority continues to be just that - to meet the needs of the community - needs for reliable services and appreciation for Keene's history.  The current downtown project is no exception.
 

1826:
 

Keene in 1826

 

1896:Keene in 1896

 

1906:Keene in 1906

 

1910: (Paving with bricks)
Keene in 1910
1913:
Keene in 1913
1949:Keene in 1949

 

Mid 1900'sKeene in the mid 1900s

 

1977: (Main Street reconstruction)Keene in 1977

 

 

Downtown Gilbo Ave Concept