Milpitas’ main thoroughfare could be getting a bit of a makeover by November 2021.
Last year, Vice Mayor Carmen Montano asked city officials to craft a plan to revitalize a two-block stretch of Main Street in an effort to preserve Milpitas’ heritage and attract business in the downtown corridor.
The plan, which the City Council voted unanimously to move forward with at its Tuesday meeting, included both a short-term strategy with fixtures such as banners, decorative lighting, and temporary art installations and a long-term strategy with historic markers and other signage that would be implemented as part of the broader Milpitas Gateway-Main Street Specific Plan.
The short-term approach also included a number of proposals to help Milpitas residents celebrate the holidays this winter, including the installation of an ice rink and food trucks in the parking lot under the Highway 237 overpass and carolers and other live entertainment throughout December.
Montano praised the plan, telling Assistant City Manager Ashwini Kantak that she “captured the essence of what the vision [of Main Street] is.”
“[The street] has so much soul and historic integrity and I feel like this is the city council that can bring it back to life,” the vice mayor said, hinting at previous failed revitalization efforts.
While the plan received positive remarks from other members of the council, concerns were voiced about the long-term potential of the city’s principal street.
“If we’re going to go in there and do something short term, it’s going to go away and another council is going to have to revive it,” Mayor Rich Tran said. “I would hate to put funding into any of these proposals to see it not be a permanent fixture. I think Main Street deserves that.”
Some of the short-term initiatives, such as banners that would be changed throughout the year and murals, were incorporated into the long-term approach. However, tree lights, art installations, and live entertainment would be seasonal—mainly taking place in the winter months.
Last year, Montano also requested that city officials explore the idea of constructing a history museum on Main Street. A group of residents formulated a non-profit called the Milpitas Community Museum back in 2013 and even purchased land next to the library, but no formal plans have been submitted.
Kantak told The Beat that the museum would be part of a longer plan to revitalize the area.
“It’s an idea that has been around but there isn’t any land, there isn’t any funding,” she said.
The city is holding a series of community conversations over the next few months with the final meeting on history and culture happening on June 24. Kantak says she expects that a vision for the museum will be discussed at that meeting.
The short-term plan could cost the city up to $165,000, with potential funding sources including the community benefit fund, public art fund, sponsorships, recreation fees, and the general fund.
While the council didn’t take any action to fund the plan during Tuesday’s meeting, they will have to make adjustments to the proposed 2021-22 budget after the May 11 budget study session. City officials are also recommending a revenue share agreement with ice rink operators to help offset the cost of the ice rink if it’s installed this winter.