Keep momentum in downtown revitalization efforts
It was decided last month that the city of Eudora and downtown property owners wouldn't pursue a grant application this year that, if approved, would provide money for a downtown facelift. The decision to defer the application hinged on the fact that one pre-requisite for the grant application-- a downtown association -- was not in place.
The grant would have allowed the city to move forward with a beautification project that would install brick sidewalks, decorative street lighting, crosswalks and vegetation islands in the 700 block of Main Street.
The decision need not be a setback if the city and community press on with the momentum of the past six to eight months. The state will accept another round of grant applications in October 2004. It is encouraging to hear downtown merchants, such as Thomas Smith, enthusiastically embrace the grant application and its goals. Although city staff can aid with direction and knowledge -- City Administrator Mike Yanez has done an admirable job of keeping the issue active and moving it forward -- downtown revitalization will only be successful if the district's business owners provide the leadership of the effort.
Near the top of the to-do list is the formation of the downtown association. True, the next grant application is 13 months away, but the association offers a viable vehicle for reaching out to downtown business owners not yet onboard by organizing joint projects such as cleanup days and fund-raising. Any successes its members scored in those areas would only strengthen the probability of a future grant application being accepted.
The city could signal the seriousness of its intent by making good with a threat to condemn neglected property.
Grants, like grace, are often showered on those who help themselves. An energetic group of downtown property owners and merchants could make a lot of good things happen for themselves and Eudora.