Columbus continues looking for ways to improve its downtown.

The city’s Downtown Beautification Task Force has proposed the city install banners along downtown light poles. Matt Schreiber, director of planning and development, often leads the task force meetings and presented the banner proposal to the Committee of the Whole at its Jan. 3 meeting.

Schreiber said the city’s Historic Landmarks and Preservation Commission received a $10,000 donation from a Columbus family to go toward banners. The city would install the banners on 35 downtown light poles.

“After receiving this donation we wanted to make this a priority,” Schreiber said.

To design the banners, the city is considering using local artists through a design contest. City council expects to approve the contest at its next meeting. If approved, contest submissions will be taken through the city’s website, cityofcolumbuswi.com. Schreiber said submissions will be accepted through early March.

Schreiber said the banners could cost as much as $8,000, but the city could select less durable material for lower cost. Council President Andy Traxler asked how the city will maintain the banners after they’re installed. Schreiber suggested setting up a beautification fund for banner maintenance, but said the money could also be used for items such as park improvements and new welcoming signs.

Committee members liked the banner idea. Schreiber said banners could be installed in late May or early June.

Milburn thanks holiday help

City resident JD Milburn, who is involved in several organizations in Columbus, praised city staff and volunteers for successful holiday events.

Columbus’ holiday celebration began with the annual downtown parade and Christmas tree lighting Nov. 23. On Nov. 25, the city held a wine walk and the Holiday Train stopped to entertain Columbus in early December. On Dec. 15, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce hosted Breakfast with Santa at Fireman’s Park Pavilion. Milburn said these events went smoothly as many pitched in to help.

“Our unsung heroes, always in this, are the public employees because people assume these events just happen out of a box with private people,” Milburn said.

Milburn thanked Columbus Department of Public Works, police and fire departments, and library staff for planning and organizing safe, fun events.

“The police department did an awesome job,” Milburn said. “This year we also had a couple fire trucks in the parade, which was also nice. In all this time during the holidays, it always takes a private-public partnership. It’s easy to complain about the city and that taxes are too high, but we do get some services and we need to thank these people.”

Signage change at schools

With a new traffic flow outside Columbus elementary and middle schools, the city will need to update its no parking signage.

City Administrator Patrick Vander Sanden has discussed the change with Superintendent Annette Deuman.

“With their adjusted pick-up flow some of the signage is no longer relevant and needs to be adjusted,” Vander Sanden said. “Specifically with the elementary and middle school where we have no parking (signs) laid out in front of the schools. The morning regulations are still needed but the afternoons are not.”

According to Vander Sanden, Deuman also asked if parking along West School Street near the district office could be allowed. Mayor Mike Thom said the signage is confusing. The city likely didn’t follow-up with ordinance changes after the school changed drop-off times and locations at the start of the school year.

“If the sign says not to park there, an officer could issue a parking violation to a vehicle if they didn’t understand that is where the school wants them to go,” Thom said. “I think we need to continue working on this. I’m not opposed to any of the proposed changes.”

Columbus PD is also reviewing the parking situation. The committee will likely review more information at its next meeting.

Court update

The city is trying to form an ad hoc committee for its municipal court, but hasn’t received much interest.

Thom said he’s received only one resident application for the committee and will likely appoint two council members to the group. The committee will oversee the formation of Columbus’ municipal court which begins proceedings May 1. A judge will be elected in the April election and a clerk will also be appointed. The city also plans to develop a municipal court fund.

Follow Kevin Damask on Twitter @kdamask or contact him at 608-963-7323.

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