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AUBURN —  Written on a poster board in the Booker T. Washington Community Center were the words "need some improvement." This was how one Auburn community member described the city in three words. 

On Tuesday, the public was once again welcomed to participate in a Downtown Revitalization Initiative workshop to discuss potential projects that could revamp the downtown area.

Attendees were encouraged to answer questions like "what do you think Auburn's greatest asset is?" and "how would you describe Auburn in one word?"

Many members of Auburn's Local Planning Committee, who are tasked with sending the state officials a recommended list of projects, attended the workshop to hear public feedback on the 29 proposals requesting funding from the $10 million awarded by the state. 

In order to be considered, a project proposal must be placed within the DRI boundaries established by the LPC. Because many projects were adjacent to the original boundaries, the LPC redefined the downtown area to include their consideration. 

"It's intentionally a pretty small, concentrated area," said Kimberly Baptiste, a city consultant from the planning firm Bergmann Associates. 

"The goal behind having that small boundary is to have a greater impact in that downtown core rather than spreading out that $10 million across the whole city," she said. 

Additionally, project proposals must also be supported by a vision statement furnished by the LPC, one of the committee's four established goals and by an LPC-constructed strategy. 

These goals include increasing available housing, city promotion, beautifying public space and enhancing and preserving the city's architecture. 

One city-backed project proposing the construction of a new public safety complex was questioned during the public discussion portion. This new facility would house Auburn's fire department, an emergency operations center and an emergency management office.  

The new safety complex would be placed near the corner of Nelson and Seminary, about a half mile from the Market Street station. 

"What our hope was is that by putting that new fire station in the proposed location, it would help that neighborhood," Auburn City Manager Jeff Dygert said.

The current fire station, which stands at 23 Market St., has sparked some interest by private developers to give the building a new beginning, whether for housing or retail. However, no clear-cut plan for its future exists, Dygert said. 

He added that because of its historical significance, reutilizing the current fire station has been the intent "all along." 

At the December workshop, the public (along with the LPC at an earlier meeting) participated in an exercise that mimicked spending the $10 million on projects they thought were most deserving. On Tuesday, community members were given another chance to participate in the same exercise. Results from December's meeting were tallied, but because the LPC wanted to include Tuesday's numbers, the results were not disclosed.  

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Staff writer Dan Orzechowski can be reached at (315) 282-2239 or Follow him on Twitter @OrzechowskiDan.


City government reporter