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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Downtown revitalization effort taking shape

Friday, October 8, 2010

Discussions focusing on ways to advance betterment ideas for Monett's downtown were discussed by committees at the Main Street program meeting on Thursday. Downtown Coordinator DJ Miller, shown standing at center, guided two dozen volunteers into committees where they could apply their interest an expertise to the discussion. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
Committees took shape and focus areas were defined at the second meeting of the Main Street Committee, which is carrying on the work of the Vision 2030 effort.

Downtown Coordinator DJ Miller said the turnout of two dozen people volunteering to participate in the effort was heartening and more than he expected. Miller explained the Main Street program offered a framework to advance the visioning work done last year by Drury University architecture students and the public in several work sessions.

The organization committee, for example, will set the direction for the other committees and conduct fundraising efforts, Miller said. The design committee will concentrate on the appearance of the downtown, establishing standards and ways to promote changes.

The promotion committee will focus on marketing what Monett has to offer to the public at large and attracting new businesses. The economic restructuring and development committee will concentrate on shaping a future downtown district and the infrastructure needed to support it.

When the downtown committee started meeting under Miller's direction last month, getting selected for the Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri (DREAM) program was not expected. Miller said the local effort now would guide how the DREAM engineers proceed.

"DREAM's goals will be yours," Miller said. "What you're doing now will help them. If you think they back the Brinks truck up here and pile out the money, that's not how it's going to work."

Miller did his intern work in Strafford, which had been named to the DREAM program. He found a local effort can work in tandem with the state group, though how that will happen in Monett is still unclear. He expected DREAM would help direct Monett's leaders to available grants and loans.

A number of those attending had not come to previous meetings or read the Vision 2030 document. Miller said a copy has been posted on the city's website and urged participants to read ideas previously considered.

Sign-up sheets were distributed and the meeting subsequently broke into three committees.

Those in the marketing committee discussed a slogan and an advertising promotion that would encourage shopping in Monett in general, pointing out the downtown as a particular point of interest as the concentrated area of retail stores.

The group was particularly interested in what the public would like to see in Monett that is not here now. Two downtown merchants said they have consistently heard requests for a jewelry store, a store selling the latest fashions in women's shoes, a full-scale restaurant and establishing a downtown bathroom for public use.

To find what Monett people would like in services in town, committee members decided to ask for public input. A survey will be placed at Monett's banks, asking for ideas. The committee will then focus on how to bring specific businesses to town and help them to succeed.

The committee decided to meet next at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4, at the Monett Chamber of Commerce's meeting room.

The design committee talked about buildings that have recently undergone face lifts and others, like the pawn shop at Third and East Broadway, that have started. Members planned to work with building owners to come up with a vision of what the committee would like to see downtown look like.

Both the design and the economic restructuring groups discussed the flooding situation. One of the economic development committee members observed flooding does not impact all the downtown buildings and to attach a blanket description to the entire downtown was an unfair myth. The group decided to explore flood issues further and find one area where progress could be made.

Economic development committee members agreed to study the Vision 2030 document at length. Ann Saunders, who helped moderate the discussion, said the group planned to upload documents and have an online discussion in a few weeks.

"I was impressed with the enthusiasm in the group," Saunders said. "People are really committed to it."

"I though the meeting went well," Miller said. "We've got people for all the committees. The smallest one has five people. I'd like to have 10 in each committee. I thought everybody interacted well together."

Miller said he would meet with all the groups as they set up separate meetings. The volunteers said they wanted to stay in touch with discussions from each committee.

For more information, call Miller at 417-635-1139.

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