BARSTOW Billboards on the outskirts of town with "Barstow welcomes you" written in cursive, lit so it twinkles in the night sky. Freeway overpasses decorated to mimic the architecture of the Harvey House. An archway over Main Street welcoming visitors to downtown Barstow, patterned after the dark steel of the First Street Bridge.

Those are some of the ways the city could make itself more visually appealing to residents and visitors, landscape architects from Lawrence R. Moss & Associates of Glendale suggested at the city's fourth Barstow Beautiful community meeting Wednesday evening.

A team of landscape architects, led by Jaime Yamashita, has been working on the project for months as it meets with community members to solicit ideas and evaluate possible design features.

Wednesday's meeting was the first where the firm offered more specific proposals, after brainstorming with community members at previous events.

The firm plans to keep working on a final report that it will present to the City Council at a later date.

City Manager Curt Mitchell said he hoped that the final report could lead to two or three beautification projects that could be completed before the end of the year. The City Council would have to approve specific projects, he said.

"We're not going to do everything all at once," Mitchell said.

The plan would eliminate the need to hire new landscape architects and architects on every public project, since there would already be an agreed-upon description to follow, Assistant City Manager Oliver Chi said.

But some residents said they thought that the city should work toward improving the economic climate for businesses before worrying about the city's appearance. Others worried that there would be too many strings attached to any outside funds that would otherwise benefit the city.

"I think the city's putting the cart before the horse sometimes," Barstow resident Christina Byrne said.

"To me, I just can't imagine this stuff in Barstow," Miranda Wessel-Allmon, a member of the Barstow Youth Council, said.

Yamashita also proposed a series of pedestrian wayfinding signs that would point the way to Barstow landmarks, as well as a consistent design for signs at offramps and major streets to help motorists navigate the city. There could also be street signs with different icons for each Barstow neighborhood, with the design to be determined locally, Yamashita said.

The pedestrian signs could be key to future pedestrian paths through the city, Engineering Assistant Domingo Gonzalez said, including a possible plan to install a walking trail at the new Barstow Community Hospital property that could connect to the adjacent Desert Discovery Center and Barstow Senior Center.

Yamashita told residents to think big when it came to making the city look nicer.

"I think it was the movie 'The Field of Dreams' if you build it, they will come," Yamashita said, adding, "That's a big gamble. I understand."

Mitchell reassured residents that the beautification project did not mean the city had lost its focus on economic development.

"Without jobs, it doesn't matter," Mitchell said.

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