Getting people interested in downtown again is the goal
BOWLING GREEN—New trashcan enclosures dot the downtown area as part of a beautification project being sponsored by the Downtown Revitalization Committee.
This committee is part of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, and is looking to improve the look of the downtown area and enhance business growth through various promotions and projects.
Spearheading this committee is Tracy Brookshier, the marketing coordinator for Pike County Health Department, Home Health & Hospice.
At the committee’s meeting Aug. 1, she talked about the projects that have been completed and the ones that are coming.
She noted that the six new trash can enclosures, which have been placed around the town square already, are just the start, and she said six more were on order from the building trades class at North East Correctional Center. Brookshier mentioned the committee’s Facebook page in reference to the trash cans, which states: “Who gets excited about trash cans? We do!”
“Dan Trower said he will have his next class build the next six enclosures,” Brookshier said. The committee is also working on getting four more of the benches with planters placed downtown. Currently, there are four benches placed around the town square.
Missouri community betterment signs have already gone up, she said, with one being placed close to the airport.
Donations from the Downtown Hoedown last month were not quite as good as she originally thought. The committee learned it collected about $2,800, after going over the numbers again.
But it was enough to almost cover the cost to install the electricity for the lot where the hoedown took place.
“For our first, all-on-our-own event, I thought it went really well,” Brookshire said.
There were a few noise complaints, she added, but the city’s noise ordinance does not start until 11 p.m., and she made sure the band was done right at 11.
“It’s something you would expect when you have residential and businesses so close together,” she said.
Even though a lot of people asked her how often they would be hosting similar events, Brookshire said that without a lot of volunteers, just once a year is all they could manage for now.
“People don’t realize the amount of effort that goes into putting on something like this. Even on such a small scale—two vendors, some music and a beer garden.”
Food Truck Fridays was put on hold for now, but should return next year, Brookshire said. Even if the vendors could not finish out this season, she said she would continue to work with them for next spring.
The committee still wants to get hanging baskets downtown. At first, they thought they could be placed on the light polls, but that takes permission from Ameren, which owns the polls.
“The last time we spoke with Ameren, they were pretty sure hanging baskets were not allowed,” Brookshire said. Bowling Green’s city clerk searched for the agreement between the city and Ameren to see if the baskets could be allowed, but it could not be found. An Ameren representative was looking, as well.
If they are not allowed, she said the committee might try and get boxes with polls in them that could be placed on city sidewalks.
The committee placed display boards inside the windows of the Ben Franklin building on the southwest corner of the square. Brookshire said the committee would be upgrading them so non-profit groups and some other businesses could advertise there.
They would be putting plywood on the boards to make it easier for businesses to staple items to them.
“The purpose of those boards was to make those vacant windows look good,” Brookshire said. She is hoping that at the next committee meeting, the members could meet in that building and help upgrade the display boards while discussing business.
The committee is still working toward getting a theater built in the lot off of South Court Street.
Brookshire said there are two contractors interested in the “Liberty Theater” project. Estimates for that project are still quite high—between $25,000 and $30,000. Once she has their bids, she said, she would go back to see if they would be willing to donate any part of that construction cost for a place on the donor wall in the theater.
To raise that much, she said, “We’re going to have to do some killer fundraisers.”
And with that, she mentioned the next big downtown event—The Champ Clark Heritage Festival, Sept. 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Revitalization Committee would be taking care of the beer garden, which will be on the same lot behind the Court Annex building. Even though the festival would end at 4 p.m., she said, the beer garden would stay open until 9 p.m.
“We have some entertainment that we’re booking for the beer garden,” she added.
There will be a corn hole tournament there, as well as the “Paint the Street” contest. Some of the streets around the main square would be closed for the festival. Contestants could win cash prizes for their painting. Each contestant will have one hour to paint a 5-foot by 5-foot section of the street. As the paintings are done, Brookshire said she would place a photograph of them on the committee’s Facebook page, and the top three winners would be determined by the number of likes they receive.
The paint should wear off after a few weeks, so it won’t be permanent, and the committee would be keeping a close eye on the subject matter of the paintings, because they have to be family friendly, she said. More details about the contest and prizes are available on the committee’s Facebook page.
To go along with the “Paint the Street” contest, the committee wants at some point to have people paint interactive murals, possibly on downtown business’ buildings. But if not there, then on fence sections that would be placed around the committee’s lot off of South Court Street.