Walking Up Mainstreet: Downtown and the city are working together for positive change
We had another successful and fun PotatoFest. Thank you to all who attended or helped and supported this spudtacular event. Some of you know that planning for these events starts the week after they end, and this one is no exception. We have already had several meetings for next year.
The upcoming events that we are working on include Downtown Trick or Treat and the Pumpkin Glow. Both of these are happening on Saturday, Oct. 25. Also coming up on Nov. 1 is the “Haunted” Hodag Howl. This is the event where we auction off the Hodags (this is your chance to own one), but it also a Halloween Costume Party for adults and EVERYONE is welcome. Last year we had over 100 people and most were in costume! There is music and dancing, raffles, games and hors de oeuvres/refreshments. It is being held at the Quality Inn starting at 6:30 p.m. and the price of a ticket is still the same, $15. Details of these events will be out shortly.
This is also the time of year we are dealing with the business side of the organization. We are working on budgets, a strategic plan and an annual report to name a few of the tasks.
Also on the list for us is the Streetscape. Right now we are starting to work on a plan that will help the businesses when the construction begins. In case you have missed the various news reports I’ll try to give you a brief update on this project.The work that may begin in the downtown in 2016, has been set in motion by the Federal government and it involves updating/fixing our storm sewers. This means that the portion of the streets involved (which includes several blocks of Brown St. in the heart of the Downtown) will literally be worked on from building to building so sidewalks will also need to be removed. This has given the Downtown the opportunity to redesign itself and become a gathering place for our community and visitors.
The City has included an engineering firm, Vierbecher and Downtown Rhinelander Inc in all aspects of the project so in the end we will have a downtown that we all will want to work, live and play in. After several public meetings to inform and gathering public opinion, and several meetings with the Downtown Rhinelander Inc Design committee, some of the biggest decisions were made; the additional width of the sidewalks and the parking. Keeping in mind that downtowns are now gathering and entertainment places as well as retail shopping, the addition of 5 feet to the width of the sidewalks on both sides of the street will allow room for outdoor seating and benches and even displays and events. In gaining the sidewalk space, parking needed to be adjusted. Angle parking will remain on the east side of the street as these businesses do not have access to parking behind their buildings. The west side will go to parallel parking as they do have parking and access to the back of their buildings. All the minutes, reports, etc. regarding this project are available on our website, www.rhinelanderstreetscape.com
This week holds the next step, when Vierbecher gives a presentation to the Rhinelander City Council. This meeting is for the council to gather information about a subject over which they have decision making responsibility. No formal action will be taken at this meeting, but this project will need to be approved by the council.
As we move forward we need to remember that while change can be hard it is for the good. This is an opportunity that doesn’t come around often to community members, a chance to be a part of making our town welcoming and ready for the future.
Maggie Steffen is available at (715) 362-7374 or email [email protected].