Downtown Monticello redevelopment effort focus of two meetings May 31

City leaders will join planning commission, parks commission, and economic development authority members for a critical joint meeting later this month to review and comment on a draft plan that’s designed to revitalize downtown Monticello near the Mississippi River.

The 5 p.m. meeting will be held Wednesday, May 31, at the shelter at West Bridge Park.

The joint workshop will offer the public an opportunity to review the Downtown Small Area Plan in draft form.

According to Community Development Director Angela Schumann, the review of the draft plan by the Monticello City Council and its advisory boards is an important step prior to formal consideration, recommendation, or final adoption.

The May 31 meeting also represents an opportunity for the public to attend, ask questions and to provide feedback to the project consultants.

Engaging the Mississippi River as a resource and shifting the downtown center to a more pedestrian-friendly corridor that could change the Walnut Street landscape are key recommendations presented by consultants Andrew Dresdner, a senior associate with the Cuningham Group, and Thomas Leighton, a principal with Tangible Consulting Services, during Downtown Small Area Plan Steering Committee meetings conducted in March.

Preliminary ideas for improving the downtown have included adding a fountain, a brewpub, a homemade candy and sandwich shop, and an ice cream vendor near West and East Bridge Parks or an outdoor amphitheater. Residents learned about downtown revitalization planning during an open house Thursday, March 30.

Following the joint May 31, workshop, there will also be a public open house on the draft plan at the same location from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A public outreach effort regarding the Downtown Small Area Plan open house will be underway this week, Schumann said.

Downtown Monticello originally developed as a place for residents and visitors to come together for commerce and recreation.

Located in the historic area of the city and along the Mississippi River, downtown represents a unique neighborhood at the heart of Monticello.

The downtown area has also been a central focus of planning efforts to recapture its vibrancy as a place for all people to enjoy its amenities.

In 2010, the city completed a guide to redeveloping downtown called the “Embracing Downtown Plan.”

The plan considered land use, transportation and market realities for the area considered to be “Downtown Monticello,” extending from Interstate I-94 at its southern boundary to the Mississippi River in the north, and generally from Cedar Street on the east to Maple Street on the west.

According to city staff, since the adoption of the Embracing Downtown Plan, changes in the downtown marketplace have affected the desire and ability to implement the land use part of the Embracing Downtown Plan as it was originally intended.