The State of Downtown Kenosha (A Designated Wisconsin Main Street Community) – August 2013

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by Betty Hernandez

DesignatedMainStreetCommunityThe State of the Downtown – a one-year update on Kenosha’s Downtown Strategic Development Plan – took place in Kenosha at the Woman’s Club on Library Park Tuesday morning, August 27. Carol Schweinfurth, President of the Woman’s Club, welcomed representatives of the City of Kenosha, KABA, The Lakota Group, the Lakeshore Business Improvement District (B.I.D.), the Wisconsin Main Street Program, and citizens of Kenosha.

Mayor Keith Bosman followed with a brief history of downtown developments over the past 50 years, describing the ways in which the need to redevelop the downtown area led to the hiring of the Lakota Group and the creation of the Downtown Strategic Development Plan in 2012.

Paul McDonough, Chairman of the Lakeshore Business Improvement District (B.I.D.), stressed the importance of implementing all 10 phases of the Lakota Group’s redevelopment plan if we are to be successful. We have completed step one by hiring a downtown manager and what we do in the next 2 to 3 years is critical.

Todd Battle, President of KABA, reminded that the first step of the Lakota Group’s Strategic Development plan was to hire a Downtown Manager. That step, he said, was realized when we hired Violet Ricker, and although she is new to Kenosha, “she has hit the ground running!”

With that introduction, Violet Ricker described the many ways in which Kenosha is an ideal place for Main Street Development – the walkable neighborhoods; places that provide access to cultural events where community members gather to relax and have fun with one another; and 3rd places – areas other than home and work that give community members places to gather together to experience a definable and unique quality of life.

Violet recognizes that her job is to grow the community, and create the energy that enables Kenoshans to reconnect with downtown. She invites Kenosha residents to take part in the redevelopment of the downtown process by connecting with the committees that make up the 4 Point Approach of the Main Street Program. These committees are the Design Committee (responsible for the visual effect), the Organization Committee (develops partnerships between businesses), The Promotion Committee – (plans events), and the Economic Structuring Committee (attracts businesses to the area). In September, training will be provided by Main Street for committee members, and community members are still welcome to volunteer to serve on one of these committees.

Daniel Grove, Associate Principal, Urban Designer and Landscape Artist from the Lakota Group, reminded us that results aren’t always visible at first. When you plant, he said, it takes time for the plant to grow. But with diligence and nurturing, in due time a beautiful plant is formed.

Jim Engle, from Wisconsin Main Street, closed the meeting by reminding us that Main Street’s 4-Point Approach requires commitment from the community. Main Street is committed to helping us by providing training and bringing consultants who will assist us with this process. In closing, he declared Downtown Kenosha to be an official Main Street Community.

Kenosha community members are invited to have an active part in the recreation and redevelopment of the downtown area. To learn more about the Main Street Approach, visit www.MainStreet.org. You can also visit the Downtown Website at www.downtownkenosha.org. Information on committees can be found by visiting http://www.downtownkenosha.org/what-s-new/163-get-involved. Specific questions may also be emailed to Violet Ricker at vricker@downtownkenosha.org.

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