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Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014

Public can play important part in improving downtown

Friday, October 5, 2012

OK, downtown McCook residents and visitors, now's your chance.

You can help shape the future of our main business district by providing your input at www.rdgusa.com/crp/mccook and giving your opinion about everything from parking to promotion to atmosphere.

The site is maintained by RDG Planning and Design of Omaha, in preparation for a Community Development Block Grant expected to be received in 2013.

There were already plenty of ideas to discuss at a meeting with RDG Wednesday night, attended by about 30 people at Heritage Senior Center.

Given a $400,000 budget, the group came up with ideas like developing the old post office into convention or retail space, adding planters, benches or banners, improving lighting functionally and aesthetically, developing second-floor housing in the downtown area, filling retail voids and bringing buildings up to code, improving city parking areas, better signage, a splash park and fire-pit area for families to congregate, and a trolley-like shuttle up and down Norris Avenue.

To be sure, downtown McCook already has plenty going for it -- the renovated Keystone Business Center, thriving bars, restaurants and other businesses.

"The Bricks" are an irreplaceable asset, and we're lucky the century-old paving system has been maintained as well as they have been over the years. They offer instant recognition for downtown businesses, a cachet unavailable elsewhere.

We do like project manager Amy Haase's suggestion to come up with some "first gear" ideas to get the ball rolling.

The shuttle idea seems like it might have merit; how about holiday schedules offering out-of-town Walmart shoppers a ride downtown?

How about awnings tying businesses together, similar to those in Oberlin or downtown North Platte. Granted, that alone might use up the entire $400,000. Or, how about several kiosks as focal points for special events, lost-and-found notices?

You probably have other, better ideas, so we encourage you to visit www.rdgusa.com/crp/mccook.

The RDG team will analyze the data, interviews and public discussion, and return Oct. 23 to lead a "design studio" from 6:30 to 8 p.m. That event will allow participants to work alongside planners, landscape architects and artists to design projects for improving downtown.

You do not have to be at the meeting for the whole hour and a half -- it is more of a come-and-go format.

A public presentation will be Oct. 24 at 5:15 p.m.


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