Twin Falls archway committee is about halfway there

John O'Connell//September 7, 2018

Twin Falls archway committee is about halfway there

John O'Connell//September 7, 2018

Lytle Signs in Twin Falls created this rendering of the proposed archway at the entrance to the historic downtown area of the city. Rendering courtesy of Lytle Signs.

Members of a committee raising money to build an archway into the Twin Falls historic downtown district say they’re about halfway toward meeting a revenue goal that’s ballooned to $300,000.

The Twin Falls Archway Committee first met in November 2016, initially with a $150,000 fundraising target. The campaign had surpassed the original goal by July 31, but the project’s cost has doubled. Kathy Markus, the city’s information technology communications manager and facilitator of the eight-member committee, explained steel costs have risen sharply, and the archway’s design had to be widened to accommodate roadside rights-of-way.

The steel-and-masonry structure would span 108 feet over four lanes of Shoshone Street, with electronic displays visible to oncoming traffic in both directions.

“(Fundraising) is still going strong. There are a lot of people who haven’t heard about it, and when they hear about it, they’re excited about it,” Markus said.

Archway proponents have lofty expectations of what it would deliver to the city’s recently revamped downtown area. Markus believes it would become an iconic landmark, further beautifying the area and drawing visitors downtown for photo opportunities. She said the electronic displays would serve businesses and the public by raising awareness of community events.

“There are several cities throughout the U.S. that have archways or entrance-ways into their cities,” Markus said. “The display board piece was based on a need to get information out to the public. The committee thought this would be a good way to do that and still have an artistic piece.”

She said local nonprofit organizations without political or religious affiliations would be invited to post events on the archway displays.

Furthermore, Markus believes the displays would address a public safety need, providing a forum for posting local AMBER Alerts about missing children and other emergency messages. About 4,000 vehicles pass by the proposed archway location each day, Markus said.

In the spring, the city’s Western Days celebration donated $10,000 in proceeds from its 2016 and 2017 events toward the archway.

“Western Days is focused on doing anything we can to help downtown thrive,” said Stan Crowley, who was chairman of this year’s Western Days, hosted June 1-3.

Crowley said Twin Falls used to hang banners across Shoshone Street to advertise community events but had to stop the practice a few years ago due to liability concerns.

Markus said committee members have been raising awareness about the archway and fundraising at community events, including activities in the new Downtown Commons.

The nonprofit Twin Falls Community Foundation handles the tax-deductible archway contributions. Markus said donors who contribute $100 get their names on a brick, and are recognized with names on a tile for donations of at least $250. Donors who give $1,000 or more will have their names featured within a circle, printed on a donor sign.

Markus said the committee has applied for several grants. None have been awarded yet, but many are still outstanding. Other major donations include $43,000 from the City of Twin Falls, $20,000 from Twin Falls County, $30,000 from the Seagraves Foundation, $10,000 from First Federal Community Bank and $10,000 from Idaho Central Credit Union.

Rex Lytle, a committee member who serves as president of Lytle Signs near downtown Twin Falls, donated his company’s services to create a rendering of the proposed archway. He said the design will incorporate stone quarried from Snake River Canyon and will resemble the city’s well-known Perrine Bridge.

“It will be something we hope will be an icon in the community and something that will look very tasteful,” Lytle said.