City leaders vision for Division Street downtown includes new sidewalks and a whole lot fewer utility poles.If approved by Arlington City Council, the city will spend $650,000 from an economic development fund to reduce and relocate the excessive number of utility poles along Division Street between East and West streets over a two-year period.Reducing unsightly utility poles was among suggestions consultants gave the city last year to beautify the aging Division Street - a heavily traveled corridor linking downtown and the entertainment district - and make it more attractive to investors.If it is an area that has been shown attention and the city is making an effort to clean it up, they will be more willing to take a chance to invest in the area, said Economic Development Manager Bruce Payne.The $650,000 for the pole relocation project would come from the downtown tax increment reinvestment zone, which collects more than $1 million a year in property taxes. The zone has about $6.5 million available for projects designed to encourage private investment downtown. The zones board of directors authorized funding last month but the project still requires council approval.I really feel strongly it will attract developers in the area and really create new energy around Division Street, said Tony Rutigliano, Downtown Arlington Management Corp. president and CEO. There are so many poles that dont even need to be up now. its just clutter.The project, being designed by Oncor, could begin as soon as this summer, Payne said. Utility companies will consolidate their poles, which will be relocated to the less-prominent Front Street just south of Division. Payne said he expects a 40 percent reduction in the number of poles, which would reduce the visual clutter.A lot of the poles that are out there are telephone service poles. I expect well find out that a lot of those poles are not being used any longer, Payne said.The city has relocated utility poles in the past, including near the Levitt Pavilion downtown and Cowboys Stadium.Not all the poles on Division would come down at once, he said. Those with street lights attached to them would stay up until the second year of the project. Thats when the city expects to use state grant money from the North Central Texas Council of Governments to install new sidewalks and new street lights, Payne said.District 5 City Councilwoman Lana Wolff, a long-time downtown revitalization advocate, said she is pleased the city is collaborating with Oncor to develop an affordable alternative to burying the utility lines, a project she said could be astronomically expensive.I believe when we can start cleaning up Division Street and relocate those unsightly utility poles, its going to show that the Division Street Corridor Strategy is not just another plan that is sitting on the shelf.
Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock