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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Monett again applies for DREAM program

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Downtown Monett at dusk.
For the third consecutive year, Monett has submitted an application to seek funding for improvements under the Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri (DREAM) program. This year's application is the most detailed proposal Monett has ever submitted to the state, at a time when funding will be likely be tighter than ever.

In 2008, 10 cities were selected for the DREAM program. In 2009, the number dropped to five.

City Administrator Dennis Pyle said state sources have told him no number has been designated for this year's selection process, but the choice is expected to be between zero and five, due to budget reasons.

"I don't know the number of applications submitted," Pyle said. "It will be very competitive."

The city's application was hand delivered in Jefferson City by DJ Miller, Monett's new Main Street coordinator, on July 29. Pyle expects the selection decision to be made by mid-October.

"I submitted our application in advance to one of the state reviewers for comment," Pyle said. "One of the points made, over which we have very little control, is that portions of the downtown are in the 100-year flood plain. There is concern about investing state funds in a flood plain."

The 2008 application had largely drawn on ideas from the downtown improvement plan developed by business leaders from 1998 to 2000. The 2009 application represented a radical change from the 2008 version by introducing ideas from the Drury University architecture students, whose work form the foundation for the Vision 2030 plan.

The 2010 application included a complete copy of the Drury students' final report. The proposal included steps taken by the city to implement the Vision 2030 plan with a strong emphasis on the cooperative venture between the city, the Monett Chamber of Commerce and the downtown merchants. Establishment of a Main Street Committee and the hiring of a Main Street coordinator were detailed.

The latest application emphasized the new businesses that have come to the downtown, such as Mocha Jo's and Denali Dreams, as well as the Broadway Nights promotion.

"The 2009 application tried to emphasize concepts. The 2010 version emphasized implementation of the concepts," Pyle said.

The DREAM application asks 11 questions. Each community provides a narrative for the questions plus documentation. Several articles from The Monett Times were included as evidence of increased downtown activity.

"I would think some cities have gone through similar planning prior to applying for DREAM. I can't think many have as much planning as we've done," Pyle said.

Some of the cities recently awarded DREAM status have run into trouble pursuing the process. Pyle said financial constraints in the weakened economy have made it hard or impossible to meet the local match to the DREAM grant.

"Monett has money set aside for the match, and we were not considered. That's a wasted opportunity for the state program," Pyle said.

"I feel very good about the contents of our application," Pyle added. "I don't have a feel for if we will get funded simply because of the state budget situation. Our thinking all along has been form a committee, hire a coordinator, and the next step would be the DREAM designation. Then we can really kick start our revitalization efforts."

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