The committee is made up of all volunteers, said Chair Tracy Brookshier. “We’re a subcommittee of the Chamber of Commerce,” she added. The group has embarked on a number of projects in the last three years, since forming.
One of the projects, which had been reported on last week, is Food Truck Fridays. Started last year, the project allows food vendors to set up in the open lot just off of Court Street. There had been two buildings on the site—one on the corner with Main Street and one just a little further down Court Street.
Brookshier said for as long as she could remember, the buildings had been empty. The committee focused on either obtaining the property or getting the owners to donate the land. Eventually, one of the properties was donated to the city by Liberty Utilities, and the owner of the other lot—now that the buildings have been removed—is allowing the city to use the property. But there is still a tax lien against that property.
“We decided to focus on things that we can control,” Brookshier said. “And that is foot traffic. We can host events and fundraisers to get people interested in coming back to the downtown area.”
Their first event/fundraiser was the living windows displays during the Holly Jolly Festival.
“We did it the first year, we did it last year, and we plan to do it every year,” she said. “We utilized the vacant buildings. The owners allowed us to put people in there to do the shows,” she explained. People could vote on their favorite display by using their spare change.
The committee is also working on beautification projects around the downtown area.
“Anything we can do to beautify the area, is what we’re doing.” There are four dark-green benches around the square that have flowerpots built into them. Brookshier said the committee got sponsors for the benches. In return, the sponsors got plaques attached to the benches to let people know they paid to have them built and installed.
She said they are also working on getting hanging baskets for the light posts, but need to get the OK from Ameren, the company that owns the light polls, before that can happen.
“It’s a process,” she said, “but we’re getting there.”
Last year, the committee hosted a Spring on the Square event.
The lots where Food Truck Fridays happen play a central role in the committee’s plans for the downtown area.
“We’re working with the city, so that once they own both properties, they will, hopefully, donate them to us,” she said. “And if not, we would work with the city to see if we could still use the space.”
She noted that the city might want to sell the property, so that people could build on it. But if they’re not sold, the revitalization committee would like to put in an outdoor theater for public use. Brookshier envisions a structure that looks like an older building, but is just a breezeway to guide patrons to the outdoor stage area, which could be used for fundraising events or people could rent it out to do their own thing.
“We’ve worked with a lot of people on these projects,” she said. Plaques honoring those who’ve donated would go on the walls of the proposed breezeway.”
She noted that Bowling Green Lumber has agreed to draw up the plans for the structure. After that, the committee would put the construction out for bids.
Depending on how much it would cost, she added, the committee would then know how much money would need to be raised, and that would give them a timeline to completion.
Brookshier said the committee is also working on a small event for those people age 21 and up. They still need to secure permits from the city before being able to host such an event. But if everything falls into place, it will happen on July 12.
They are also considering a historical walking tour through downtown. The information—placed on historical markers—would focus on the businesses around town. But first, Brookshier noted, the committee would need to find someone who enjoys researching the town’s history to lead the project.
“And that’s another thing,” Brookshier added, “people think that you need to be a member of the Chamber of Commerce in order to be on this committee. But you don’t. We’re always looking for more volunteers.”
Amber Grote, who is also on the committee, showed a map the committee had created to show off downtown Bowling Green and local businesses. She said she dropped off copies of the map to various businesses around town. A copy of the map can be found on the committee’s Facebook page at BGdowntownRevitalization.
Come this fall, during the 2019 Champ Clark Heritage Festival, Saturday, Sept. 14, Brooksheir said the Revitalization Committee would be setting up a beer garden.
“We still have to get permission and the permits for that,” she said. “But we could use it as a fundraiser for our projects.
She also noted the electrical outlets that Liberty Utilities installed for them adjacent to the open lots on Court Street. It had been out in the open and something anyone could use, she said, but the Boy Scouts agreed to build an enclosure for the outlets, which was completed on Saturday.
For only being around for three years, Brooksheir said, she thought the committee was well on its way to improving the downtown area.