(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The final phase of construction of the downtown gates is now complete with final touches added to the structures on Tuesday.
Crews finished putting lettering on the gates and added a welcome arch to greet visitors into the Felix Street Square area.
"There's a lot of people saying, 'Wow, we really like them now that the lettering is up we can visualize exactly what it looks like," said Rhabecca Boerkircher, executive director of the Downtown Partnership, the organization behind the move to put up the street barriers.
This comes after the tall, black columns of steel erected downtown cast a long shadow over optimism of the project. There had been various criticisms over the new parking gates that ranged from their look to their price.
Now that they are complete, Boerkircher says some are taking a more welcoming attitude toward the parking gates. Originally designed to restrict traffic around the Felix Street Square area when festivals and concerts are going on, the project drew controversy when some said the asthetics of the gates didn't fit in with the architecture and feel of the historic downtown area.
Boerkircher said now that work is complete, people should understand their design a little better.
"We've got a lot of black downtown. We've got a lot of brick downtown. Even though they're more modern looking I think they blend in nicely," she said.
However, some who work downtown think the $200,000 used for the project could have been better spent.
"I think the reality is that it was a poor use of funds," said Dana Massin, owner of the Manic Snail, a gift and novelty store downtown. "The project is still really disappointing. I find the structure to be intrusive around the overall landscape. I question the signs themselves "
Boerkirchir said she wants to remind everyone that their original purpose is to keep people safe as more and more people come downtown. In the past several weeks there have been multiple events in Felix Street Square that have drawn hundreds of people
"As the events continue to grow downtown, and they do, we get more and more people coming down for the concerts and festivals and things, they felt like there was a real need for public safety," she said.
The parking gates have not been used during the past sevearl events held at Felix Street Square. Boerkircher said they currently are not working and some adjustments need to be made before they are operational.
The money for the gates came out of the city's hotel/motel tax fund.
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