Things can only get better from here

Posted November 27, 2013 at 10:34 am

BABBLING BROOKS column–Express Editor Kim Brooks

Numbers don’t lie. There was proof of that last Monday night at the Monticello City Council meeting.

So many people showed up (business owners, local employees, chamber representatives, concerned citizens and more) to speak out in favor of the downtown redevelopment project. While just a handful made their thoughts known, it was the outstanding attendance that helped as well. (One Council member made the comment afterwards that they wished this many people showed up for every meeting.)

I firmly believe all of these people made it hard for the City Council to say “no.”

Why wouldn’t you want Monticello’s downtown back, and more vibrant than ever?

When I drive to my hometown of Earlville, it is sad to see so many businesses that have closed down and left. I don’t mean to put Earlville under the bus, but it’s like a domino effect. The Post Office closed a year or so ago. There used to be a bar on Main Street, which is no longer. The two gas stations in town are down to one, which isn’t even open after 5 p.m. and closes at noon on Saturdays. What about those who need gas after working hours or over the weekend? There is one restaurant still open on Main Street, but last I checked, there is a “For Sale” sign in the front window. The bank did rebuild a nice new office on the corner, which helps to add to the downtown ambiance.

Unfortunately, it seems like my hometown is slowly becoming a sleeper town, which saddens me.

Looking around downtown Monticello, there are empty storefronts. But if you don’t do something to attract potential business and more people to this town, more and more stores will ultimately close down.

It’s not a welcome sign when people drive through town on Highway 38, stop at the light next to Monticello Sports and see a huge hole in our downtown landscape where two businesses once stood. It’s not attractive at all!

If you think there’s plenty of parking downtown, think again! In small towns, when people are shopping store to store, they want convenient parking. It’s quite the opposite when shopping out of town or at a big box store. When it comes to parallel parking along First Street, some people would simply rather drive around until a spot opens up. It’s quite difficult trying to parallel park along Highway 38 with heavy car and semi truck traffic.

As a downtown apartment dweller, additional parking would be ideal! I’m not saying this new proposed parking lot would directly benefit those of us who live downtown, but it would alleviate the side street parking. When I go to the store and come home with a heavy load of multiple grocery bags, it’s so much easier to have the luxury of pulling in front of my block or building and make multiple trips up and down the stairs than around the block where I normally park when I’m home for the evening.

This whole redevelopment would be great for everyone!

The green space idea sounds exciting! Everyone I’ve talked to (businesses, citizens, people from out of town) get excited about the possibility. Monticello needs something like this!

As the president of the Chamber, I’m eager to look at bringing Fun on Friday Night back downtown where it originated. I think the businesses would also be on board, as they would certainly benefit as well. Music and family fun downtown would be a welcome sight to see!

Many other small towns have their Friday night festivals downtown. When out-of-towners drive through, it’s an added attraction.

So, kudos to the City Council for getting on board. Showing that you support the businesses that turn around and support Monticello in so many ways and all for the betterment of this city!