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April 11, 2012

Peru starts downtown project

$500,000 will be used to upgrade sidewalks, beautify downtown

PERU — Peru began work Tuesday on a $500,000 downtown revitalization project that officials said could attract new businesses to the city.

Mayor Jim Walker said the project entails replacing five blocks of sidewalks on East Main Street and South Broadway Street up to the bridge over the Wabash River.

Three feet of brick cement will run along the new sidewalks, and decorative lighting will also be installed to match the street theme on North Broadway Street.

“We hope that this will create a lot of foot traffic in the downtown area that will bring more exposure to our local merchants,” he said.

More than that, Walker said, a more upscale appearance downtown could attract new businesses to set up shop in Peru.

“We think this will be another tool in our toolbelt to make the city a friendly place for merchants,” he said. “You never know who will drive through and see that this is a nice, clean little town. It will make a good first impression.”

Beyond economic perks, Walker said the new sidewalks will all be handicap and wheelchair accessible and help meet American Disabilities Act compliance rules.

The project is being paid for through a $500,000 grant from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs. Walker said the city had to match 20 percent of the grant with local funds, and noted the city will provide the trucks to haul away debris to cut down on costs.

Anne Bell, communications manager with OCRA, said Peru received the grant to upgrade infrastructure, improve quality of life and beautify the downtown. She said Peru had to contend with other cities for the grant funding.

“It’s a pretty competitive process,” Bell said.

Walker said the project should be finished in time for the Circus City Festival in July.

• Carson Gerber, Tribune reporter, may be reached by calling 765-854-6739 or via email at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.

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