AUGUSTA — A proposal to beautify Western Avenue would rely on cooperation from businesses to help spiff up the heavily commercial stretch of four-lane pavement that is a major gateway into the city.

If councilors approve the idea, the city would spend about $100,000 to patch holes and put a fresh coat of green paint on the median strips dividing much of the roadway and replace trees and other public landscaping there.

But it also would ask businesses and other landowners who line both sides of the avenue to play supporting roles by improving the landscaping around their businesses and make good on the landscaping plans they filed with the city’s Planning Board when they first secured approval for their business locations.

City Manager William Bridgeo said the city would seek voluntary participation by businesses and landowners, rather than try to compel them to take part in beautification efforts.

“The spirit of the staff work on this has been aimed at collaboration with the business community,” Bridgeo said.

City councilors are scheduled to discuss the issue at their Thursday informational meeting, a meeting at which they also are scheduled to discuss their goals for the coming year as drafted following a nearly daylong Jan. 23 goal-setting session.

Looking into taking steps to improve the appearance of Western Avenue was a goal set by councilors last year. This year, councilors did not agree upon whether to add improvements to Western Avenue to a list of goals.

Several city employees formed a team to look at the potential for beautifying Western Avenue last year, meeting four times and going on a field trip of sorts to take a closer look at the road.

The team’s recommendations to beautify the avenue included seeking $100,000 in capital improvement plan funding to clean, fill cracks in and paint medians on the avenue green.

The city also could make repairs to sidewalks and continue planting trees and pruning and removing and replacing dead or deceased trees. Bridgeo said it is hard to keep trees on the median and sides of the road thriving.

The staff also recommends reviewing the landscape plans filed with the Planning Board when businesses on the avenue received approval for their site plans to ensure what they agreed to do for landscaping actually was done and remains. Another recommendation was to meet with businesses to seek compliance if their landscaping doesn’t live up to the approved plans.

The city also would work with the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce to seek help in encouraging businesses to enhance the appearance of their sites on the avenue and meet with state officials to determine whether landscaping could be added next to the Augusta State Armory.

The staff report, according to a memo from Leif Dahlin, community services director, recommends asking Central Maine Power Co. to remove any unneeded equipment left on utility poles along the avenue.

It also suggests removing unused or out of compliance signs and sign infrastructure.

Councilors plan to meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

The proposed council goals for 2016, which councilors are scheduled to discuss Thursday, include continuing to fight drug addiction and crime, promoting the long-term economic development of Augusta, continuing to improve the built environment and improving City Council processes.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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