Monticello downtown assessment: Part 2

The downtown assessment public input session took place on Oct. 29. Several residents of the community came together to not only share the great things about downtown Monticello, but to discuss options for improvements as well. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

This story is part of a three-part series showcasing a recent downtown assessment program for the City of Monticello. 

Oct. 29-31, five professionals from Des Moines spent some time in Monticello to provide a different perspective of the downtown: 

• Jim Engle, director of the Iowa Downtown Resource Center 

• Robin Bostrom, business specialist with Main Street Iowa 

• Jeff Geerts, special projects manager and community development with Iowa Economic Development 

• Sarah Grunewaldt, Main Street Iowa director in Washington, Iowa 

• Dennis Reynolds, owner of Reynolds Urban Design 

On Tuesday evening, Oct. 29, a public input meeting was held, in which roughly 15 people were present. 

Several questions were asked of those present: 

What has been the biggest accomplishment affecting the downtown in the last two years? 

• Re-opening of the Heritage and Cultural Center 

• Monti Days 

• Pocket park 

• Karde’s 151 

• Additional shops and businesses 

• The re-location of Baked. Bakery & Food Joint 

• More events, more chamber events 

What can you do to recognize the heritage and history of Monticello? 

• Maintain historical s t r u c t u r e s / a r c h i t e c t downtown. Preserve historical homes. 

• Signage at historical locations 

• Honor the history of the Great Jones County Fair 

• Extend hours of the Heritage and Cultural Center 

• Recognize the farming community 

• Showcase the accurate history of the community 

• Spend tourism dollars and bring relatives (from other countries) back to Monticello 

• Share the history and stories of downtown Monticello 

• Billboards advertising local history 

How can you improve the look and feel of the downtown? 

• Fill empty storefronts 

• No plywood storefronts 

• Better and more parking 

• Promote the diversity of businesses 

• Have matching awnings and façade. Need a consistent design and uniform look downtown. 

• Outside seating 

• Streetscapes (flowerpots, banners, etc.) 

• Enforce building codes 

• Later business hours on the weeknights 

• Should Highway 38 be allowed to go through the middle of the downtown? Should there be an alternative route for large equipment and semi trucks? 

• Add signs that advertise empty buildings that are available 

• Maintain the buildings 

How can we improve the social activity and opportunities in the downtown? What would you like to see? 

• Re-establish the Fourth of July as a big event 

• Have more activities for the senior citizens 

• Have more interest from the different organizations to do something other than the fair 

• Benches, free Wi-Fi 

• More restaurants open on Mondays. Have a drive-through restaurant. 

• Have events at Riverside Gardens 

• Be open to new ideas 

• Winter events 

• Utilize “Main Hill” for events 

• More volunteers 

• Have a band shell for concerts 

• Small food festivals 

• More business support for library programs 

• Have events and programs in the Community Building 

• More family-friendly, kid-friendly activities 

What’s the one thing that could be done in the next six months to improve the downtown? 

• Later holidays shopping hours 

• Notable public restrooms 

• Block parties 

• Small concert events 

• Pressure-wash the sidewalks and buildings 

• Movie theater 

• One big Christmas event 

• Seasonal activities 

• Business plan contests 

• Expand the green space by Regions Bank 

• Find a way to get downtown business owners to community meetings 

• Advertise better, spend more money 

• Visible community advertisements 

• Well-trained employees who understand customer service 

What groups, organizations, individuals need to be involved in revitalizing the downtown? 

• Rotary 

• Lions 

• Eagles 

• City Council 

• Chamber 

• Churches 

• Students 

• Business/store owners 

• Master Gardeners 

• Kirkwood 

• Industries


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