The bustling Calle Guanajuato along Ashland Creek behind the Plaza will be torn up this fall for a repaving project that's expected to last about six months.
The walkway, which caters to pedestrians, outdoor diners and the weekend Lithia Artisans Market from early April through mid-November, will be resurfaced with pavers starting in late October.
"It will create some inconvenience for store owners and other folks. But it's necessary, unfortunately," said Ashland Parks and Recreation Director Don Robertson. "We've been working closely with the restaurants and property owners and artisans. We're hoping to get it done in the off-season."
Robertson said the walkway's surface is uneven, with multiple patched areas and trip hazards.
"This needs to happen. Every year, we have someone trip and fall out there," he said.
The parks department has budgeted $300,000 for the project but doesn't know yet what the exact cost will be.
The department will seek bids in September and hopes to begin the project in late October, Robertson said. It's expected to be complete in April 2014.
Some parts of the project, such as archaeological work, may be able to proceed without big impacts to the Lithia Artisans Market, he said.
The artisans market could finish out its season in a Community Development and Engineering Services Building parking lot that is near the Calle Guanajuato, he said.
The resurfaced walkway will have buff-colored concrete with an 8-foot-wide strip of brick-like pavers running down the middle, Robertson said.
The pavers will be in various shades of gray and tan, according to department plans.
The strip of pavers will mark out an 8-foot-wide area that needs to stay clear for emergency access, Robertson said.
Marking out the area will make it easier for restaurants and the artisans market to keep chairs, tables and booths out of the emergency access path, he said.
The pavers can be lifted up for crews to access utilities that run beneath the Calle Guanajuato, he said. As it is now, utility workers have to dig up the walkway's cement surface. Then the surface is patched, but the patches last only one or two years, Robertson said.
Parks Commissioner Stefani Seffinger said officials want to get the word out about the planned appearance of the resurfaced walkway so that residents are not surprised.
Last week, parks officials stationed themselves on the Calle Guanajuato with a sample of the pavers. The reactions from passersby was generally positive, officials said.
The city of Ashland undertook a major renovation of the nearby downtown Plaza that wrapped up this spring. Many people were unpleasantly surprised that the Plaza was resurfaced with dark gray pavers, instead of tan pavers.
Preliminary designs showed a buff colored surface, but the Public Arts Commission thought dark gray pavers would better offset new public art mosaics on the Plaza.
City councilors decided in June not to replace the dark gray with tan pavers, which would have cost $35,000.
Some residents are still lobbying for significant changes to the reconstructed Plaza.
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.