University of Missouri Extension specialist Jeff Barber moderated the latest meeting held at the Monett Chamber of Commerce office. He spoke of taking practical steps toward putting envisioned changes in place.
"You have no choice but to revitalize," Barber said. "You need a community vision to make it happen. The dialogue has already started."
Barber offered a number of suggestions about where the process can lead. He talked about potential assistance from a community development corporation, investors who could rehab a deteriorated building and rent it for use, or state tax credits, which have been essential in every successful revitalization project Barber could cite.
Barber suggested a weekend workshop may be needed to work through a manual on funding redevelopment prepared by the community affairs department of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. In another month, the city would also learn it has been accepted into the Downtown Revitalization Economic Assistance for Missouri (DREAM) application program.
Whether or not Monett become part of the DREAM match had little bearing on the community's success, Barber said. Springfield did its entire downtown effort before DREAM existed.
Each of the committees present at the meeting were asked to name three ideas as next steps for moving their efforts forward.
For the gateway and pocket parks committee, putting in a roundabout at Central and Broadway was identified as the first step. Making an interactive gateway with a map or TV screen to show downtown features would help clarify opportunities ahead, as would additional signage and banners.
|The fašade, streetscape and parking committee wanted to explore options for getting a historic designation for three blocks of the downtown. Committee members hoped to develop standards for a new downtown look that could be shared as a vision with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.||As a plan of action, members also suggested seeking out someone to purchase empty buildings or a developer to bulldoze those that need to be replaced.|
The flood mitigation committee said the idea of a buyout of flood-prone areas should be added to the conversation. Some objected to the idea of demolishing buildings that could diminish the downtown. Committee members said relocating businesses to a higher point such as Bond Street could maintain the district without the flooding.
Committee members suggested opening lines of communication with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and the Missouri Department of Transportation, which are responsible for obstructions to flood water. The Army Corps of Engineers, identified as the party that would be responsible for widening the creek channel west of Highway 37, was another party mentioned for talks.
The committee looking into establishing a park on Front Street cited flood mitigation as its top priority. Committee members wanted to find out what action authorities would allow, including taking soil samples.
Identifying property owners, finding out owner interest and acquisition of land were all steps toward establishing the park that the committee cited. A general lay of the land would also have to be developed.
City Administrator Dennis Pyle urged members of the various committees to continue their discussions. He said the next general meeting would be called in October after the DREAM selection had been announced.