Consultants unveiled two concepts Monday for a monument along a Longview entryway, with many residents at a public meeting favoring what’s called the “Piney Portal” plan.

The Piney Portal, a 16-foot-tall by 60-foot-long masonry wall with a 10-foot pedestrian portal and a linear grove of trees, was one of two monument concepts that received the biggest positive response from residents at a similar public meeting two months ago.

“I like that!” Marie Edwards said about the Piney Portal during presentations Monday at the second meeting held by consultants and city staff at LeTourneau University.

The Piney Portal and a “City Signs” concept, which calls for 20-foot-tall art motifs spelling out the city’s name, were the finalists from dozens of potential picks for a monument planned at the convergence of Estes Parkway, High Street and Mobberly Avenue.

To meet a goal in the city’s Comprehensive Plan, city leaders intend to build an iconic monument along the major southern entryway into downtown Longview, the transportation center, LeTourneau University and other significant areas of the city’s center.

District 2 Councilwoman Nona Snoddy said she preferred the City Signs concept because it was unlike anything she’s seen, at least in the region.

As for the Piney Portal, Snoddy said, “This is another wall. I don’t know how well it would be received in the community. It’s just another wall.”

Residents can continue to have their say online. Both options will be unveiled on the city’s website — www.longviewtexas.gov — as early as today to view and pick, said Wendy Shabay, vice president of the consulting firm Freese and Nichols.

In November’s municipal bond election, voters set aside $3.3 million to redo the intersection from a “Y” configuration to a “T-shaped” convergence. About $600,000 could be used to construct the monument on a half-acre triangular grassy area along the east side of the intersection, said Joe Hart with engineering firm Johnson and Pace.

Johnson and Pace is handling designs for entryway reconfiguration and construction.

Consultants with the Plano-based Freese and Nichols firm said the monument also will serve as a gateway to Mobberly Avenue, which is getting a $5.1 million complete street facelift.

The City Signs concept includes 4-foot graphic element decals atop each metal structure with a letter that spells out the city’s name. Beneath the decals would be eight themes, or art motifs, about the city in the body of the structure, with an idea of repeating their theme farther north along Mobberly.

A sidewalk would be built from Edwin Drive along High Street that would curve with Mobberly Avenue, consultants said. Other planned amenities are lighting to make pedestrians feel safe and trees as a backdrop so that they don’t get in the way of visibility.

The Piney Portal concept includes seat walls meant to guard pedestrians from motor traffic as well as provide rest. A sidewalk running down the area would cross beneath the 10-foot portal of the wall, and there could be bench seating and lighting with color changes.

Longview would be spelled on both sides of the wall in similar fashion and with a similar type style to other entryway structures in the city, consultants said. They also are considering having red brick on one side of the wall and stone on the other side.

“We don’t want a lot of high maintenance,” said Dave Retzsch, also a consultant for Freese and Nichols. “We don’t want a lot of landscape features that we have to maintain.”

Residents picking the Piney Portal seemed most interested in adding art decals promoting Longview’s heritage and focal points on the wall.

Each of the concepts provides access and parking to Jodac Office Outfitters, a longtime business at the intersection immediately east of the grassy area.

“We went through a lot of voting and feedback on those two,” Shabay said of the concepts.

After a preferred design is selected, consultants and the city will prepare a final design that could be approved by the City Council as early as November. Once approved, construction documents would be prepared, the project would then be advertised for bidding and a public bid opening could occur in June, consultants said.

Construction is tentatively identified for July 2021, though consultants said that all dates are preliminary.

 

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