City Council hears group’s downtown improvement ideas

stillwaterA Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce subcommittee member presented ideas to make downtown Stillwater a destination draw once the new St. Croix River Bridge, Lowell Park levee and Brown’s Creek Trail projects are completed.

Rich Cummings, a member of the Chamber’s Downtown Revitalization ambiance subcommittee, outlined the group’s ideas to the Stillwater City Council Tuesday night.

“We believe that coming up with plans to revitalize downtown Stillwater is a community effort. This is one of six subcommittees and we want to bring ideas and opportunities of improving downtown Stillwater to rejuvenate it. Nothing is taxpayer funded right now and what we want to do is go community-by-community to get them to own the efforts and we’re seeking assistance from the city to pull it all together,” added Todd Streeter, Greater Stillwater Area Chamber of Commerce executive director.

Lighting was a major suggestion to draw people downtown. Besides lighting the Lift Bridge, Cummings said lights could be installed in trees, stairs and possibly on some riverside stone bluffs. He also suggested that the council revisit the downtown sign ordinance, consider streetscaping ideas and plant trees, particularly in Lowell Park.

The council agreed that Cummings had great ideas about improving downtown but wondered where funds would come from.

“Who pays for this, It’s almost as if we need to create some mechanism to get it to work,” Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki asked.

Cummings said 3M has expressed interest in helping with the project and added that a city staff member already has lighting experience. Cummings then jokingly said “maybe we could use some Lumberjack Days event money.”

Councilman Mike Polehna said that he felt the ideas were great but he had concerns about the timing.

“What’s important though, is that right now people downtown are talking to each other and it’s all about building it and they will come,” Councilman Doug Menikheim resplied. “Right now they’re generating ideas and members of the public are interested in supporting this.”

Councilman Ted Kozlowski agreed.

“We can’t let stuff like this go away, and we can’t rest on our laurels and just hope that someone will come and fund it either. And I would love to see downtown all lit up,” Kozlowski said.