Although he acknowledges that everyone in the packed conference room at Valley Technology Park knows that if the new Downtown Square is going to become all that it can be, it’s going to take a whole lot of elbow grease and some fortunate bounces when it comes to funding, Tom Jorgens tells the Times that drawings envisioning a bustling square by Crookston InMotion Stewardship Team member Robert Gustafson are pretty cool.
“The building of that green space into what it can be will take lots of work from many groups, including volunteers to help construct the shelters, raise money for materials, and help create something special,” Jorgens noted in an email.
The full Crookston InMotion Stewardship Team doesn’t sit down together very often, as the team’s various committees do much of their work on their own on the strategic visioning initiative’s various “Destiny Drivers.” The meeting Tuesday that focused solely on what’s happening downtown and what could happen downtown drew an overflow group in excess of 20 team members.
“Extra chairs had to be brought in, which is always a good sign,” Jorgens said.
Wayne Melbye and John Bridgeford, leaders of the downtown Destiny Driver that believes adding housing options downtown will eventually bring more people and, therefore, more commerce and services downtown, led Tuesday’s early morning session. They led discussions on downtown revitalization, building renovations, parking spaces near key buildings, housing potential and business expansion. Much of the talk focused on the need for significant new rental housing. (Bridgeford, of Sanbridge Properties, coordinated the renovation of the former funeral home on the south edge of downtown into apartments.)
Jorgens said the Small Cities Development Program (SCDP) grant that will commence this spring will result in buildings “showing renewal.”
Even though not a lot of time was spent discussing Gustafson’s Downtown Square drawings, Jorgens said they created some definite buzz in the room, and the team is hoping the public offers up their thoughts once they get a glimpse of them. Gustafson’s renderings show shelters, a bandstand and stalls for farmers’ market vendors.
“We want to see ideas and comments from the wider community,” Jorgens said, adding that the hope is to finalize a Downtown Square design by the end of February and be prepared to take some initial steps in the spring.
“The drawings are inspiring,” Jorgens said. “Spring will come soon and then we will want to move forward with some building.”
As for Crookston InMotion as a whole, Jorgens said a “number of things are getting InMotion over the next few months, with a “promise of progress” that everyone will be able to see and celebrate.