HELEN - After more than a dozen years of planning, work is about to begin on redevelopment of the Island in Helen.
Helen officials gathered Tuesday afternoon for a ceremonial groundbreaking for the project, which is located roughly between city hall and the Festhalle.
The area, so named in the 1970s because it included a moat at that time, is located below Helen City Hall between Main Street and Edelweiss Strasse.
"The purpose of this project was to see this area develop," said City Manager Jerry Elkins. "It was to provide the necessary infrastructure, water and sewer, drainage, streets, sidewalks and parking areas to encourage develop down here, and to connect this area with the downtown area."
The work, being performed with Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax proceeds, will create some 64 free parking spaces.
"What we envision this to be one day is another small downtown Marketplatz area," Elkins said.
Elkins estimates about a $700,000 investment in Phase 1 of the project.
"I know that sounds like a lot of money, but just the contract on it is $430,000, and the city's added streetlights to that, and we're going to install them while the contractor is here," Elkins said.
Phase 1, which is from Bodensee on Munich Strasse to Narr Weg between Country Inn and Suites and The Hayloft, is set to be completed in early 2014.
During Tuesday afternoon's Helen City Commission meeting, EMI was authorized to proceed with the engineering for Phase 2 of redevelopment of the Island. That portion runs from Country Inn and Suites past Bigg Daddy's to Edelweiss Strasse, and will include streets, sidewalks and streetlights.