City of Monmouth

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Downtown



Downtown Strategic Plan
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 12:33

After over 15 months of work, numerous community engagement and focus group meetings, and the support of the City Council, the Mayor and the City Administrator, the City of Monmouth is pleased to publish our downtown revitalization strategic plan, entitled: Reimagining the Heart of Our Community. This planning document will serve as a decision-making tool as we work forward to prioritize our efforts to reenergize and rebuild our city center. Successful progress will not be at the hands of the City alone, but in partnerships with businesses, financial organizations, service organizations and community volunteers. Together, we can make it happen.

Read the strategic plan here: http://www.cityofmonmouth.com/downtown-strat-plan.html

Note: the strategic plan is a live-linked Google document housed on the City's Google Apps repository. That is why it looks slightly different from other pages on this site. Since it is live-published, any changes we make will instantly be shown on the site.

 
Reimagining Downtown Website
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 12:23

Kate Ferrer, the City of Monmouth's Community Matters graduate student (who received her graduate degree from the University of Illinois' Department of Urban Planning) has posted her year of research into our community on a dedicated website called Reimagining Downtown Monmouth. To read her research and recommendations, visit the site at: http://downtownmonmouth.weebly.com/.

 
Great Article on First Engagement Meeting
Friday, 05 August 2011 09:53

The Review Atlas has posted a great article on our first public engagement meeting for our Downtown Revitalization Strategic Plan. You can read it here. Thanks to everybody who attended and helped make this inaugural events such a success!

 
City of Monmouth Strategic Plan Meeting
Wednesday, 27 July 2011 08:57

The City of Monmouth is moving on to the next phase of “Re-imagining the Heart of Our Community,” the City’s downtown revitalization strategic plan. This phase centers around public engagement.

To that end, the City will host two public engagement meetings; the first will be held on the Monmouth College campus on Wednesday, August 3rd, from 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. The event will take place in the Scots Dining Hall (the main dining hall) in the Stockdale Center. A light dinner will be provided. Although the event is free, an RSVP would be greatly appreciated to help determine the amount of food that will be needed.  Please send your information to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 734-7590.

The event will begin with a short presentation that will outline the vision of downtown revitalization, explore the context of the plan and introduce the economic and social factors that will drive the decision-making process. The presentation will wrap up with an overview of the ten action areas that comprise the core of the plan.

Attendees will then be asked for their input, from prioritizing already identified tasks to helping to brainstorm new ideas within the identified action areas. Working in small groups, community members will have an opportunity to explore possibilities within all action areas and will then report out to the larger group.

“A strategic plan for downtown revitalization is not a static document,” explains Director of Community Development Paul Schuytema. “Rather, it’s a living set of guidelines and action items - sort of a dynamic battle plan that will always be evolving as new opportunities and new challenges arise.”

“For our revitalization to succeed, we all need to participate,” says Schuytema. “Our community members, our City, our service groups, our financial institutions, our educational institutions and our cultural organizations. It’s our community and it’s up to us all to make it happen.”

Ongoing information on the progress of downtown revitalization will be featured on the “Downtown” page on the City’s website (http://www.cityofmonmouth.com/downtown.html).

The second community engagement meeting will be held later in August, exact date and location to be determined.

“We’re very excited to share our vision of a revitalized downtown with our community,” says Schuytema. “But it’s even more exciting to have an opportunity to hear what great ideas our residents will have to share with us.”

 
New Windows Brighten Historic Building
Monday, 18 July 2011 10:16

The Kellogg Printing Company building, on the Northeast corner of Public Square, received a face-lift last week with the addition of new street-level and upper-level windows. The historic building, which was once home to a Pabst brewery-owned tavern, has a new lease on life with bright green highlights on the upper-window arches and large picture windows on the street level. It's great to see another historic building on the square come back to life!

 
Revitalizing Our Downtown
Friday, 17 June 2011 10:53

The heart of a vibrant small town is its city center. For Monmouth, that heart is our Public Square and the blocks that surround it, with the circular Central Park at the epicenter. Ask anyone to form a picture of Monmouth in their mind, and it will be the downtown they visualize - the roundabout, the Central Park fountain, the red stone county courthouse and the historic buildings. Since the foundation of Monmouth in 1831, to the present day - and well into our desired future, Public Square and downtown Monmouth reflect who we are as a community.

To strengthen our community - culturally and economically - we propose a strategic plan to define and guide our actions in the coming years to revitalize our historic downtown. This plan does not emerge out of a vacuum - rather, it is the natural outcome of the recommendations laid out in the City’s 2007 Comprehensive Plan, informed by our current and future economic conditions and aspirations, the need and desire to create a strong downtown-college link between the City and Monmouth College, the cultural-enhancement principles of creative placemaking, as well as the desire to forge a diverse, invigorated, creative and sustainable center for our community.

“Monmouth More then Ever,” the Comprehensive Plan for the City of Monmouth, prepared by the Western Illinois Regional Council, was adopted by the City Council in 2007. This plan was the result of a multi-year process of research and community engagement and lays out a road-map that informs the day to day decision making of the City government. Numerous aspects of this plan, from Economic Development to Aesthetics and Beautification to Historic Preservation deal directly with downtown Monmouth and serve as the bedrock foundation of this strategic plan.

“Creative Placemaking,” by Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa, is a research-based study (prepared for the Mayor’s Council on City Design by the National Endowment for the Arts) which explores how arts, culture and creativity can serve as a unifying force (and strategy) that can greatly enhance the economic development and livability of a community. In order for a revitalization plan to be successful, a community must be honest about its strengths and weaknesses. For downtown Monmouth revitalization, one of our greatest weaknesses is our geography - we are not blessed with the attractive natural resources that can serve as a magnet for tourism and commerce. Where we have strength is in our historic infrastructure and our cultural and artistic core (Buchanan Center, Monmouth College and the Warren County Public Library). Based on our assets, a culture and art-based approach to downtown revitalization, guided by the principles outlined in “Creative Placemaking” is a sound strategy.

The Implementation Strategies that make up the heart of this strategic plan below grew out of our Comprehensive Plan, and were informed by the concepts outlined in “Creative Placemaking” and are aligned by a set of core principles that address the unique aspects of our community and economic times.

 
It's About the Journey
Friday, 17 June 2011 10:52

The primary purpose of our Downtown Strategic Plan is two-fold. First, it is an attempt to create an action-based “jigsaw puzzle” of all of the myriad implementation areas and actions required that, as a whole, comprise a realistic path towards holistic downtown revitalization. Second, it is a living tool to guide decisions and track the priorities and progress of the component actions that make up the revitalization of our downtown.

The process of re-inventing our downtown is a complex process with many moving, inter-related parts. Our plan is an attempt to capture that complexity and break the larger process into actionable, achievable atomic parts. This plan also serves as a guidepost with which to measure new opportunities and ideas. It is a living document - meant to be reviewed, updated and actions added and removed.

Our larger goal is significant: to re-invent our core downtown district in order to better serve our community and enhance the economic prosperity of Monmouth. While this is a large and complex goal, it should be remembered that results are not merely “good for the bottom line”, but rather the results will provide a fun, entertaining and nourishing city-center which will enhance the happiness and enjoyment of all in our community.

One final note: this is a long process - a marathon rather than a sprint. To sustain our efforts, all participating stakeholders and community members should “enjoy the ride.” After all, in a very real way, the journey IS the destination.

 
Implementation Areas
Friday, 17 June 2011 10:47

Our Downtown Revitalization Strategic Plan covers the following ten core implementation areas:

  • Targeted Building Renovation
  • Streetscape Beautification
  • Targeted Business Recruitment
  • Downtown Residential Living
  • Business Entrepreneurship and Stewardship
  • Arts and Culture
  • Community Building
  • Technology
  • Sustainability
  • Marketing and Branding

 
Visualizing the End Game
Friday, 17 June 2011 10:45

In the fanciful piece below, we imagine what life might be like in downtown Monmouth on the other side of our revitalization project.

It’s a crisp, late Spring day; the breeze is gentle and trees all show new growth. You park your bike on the bike rack at the corner of Broadway and First. Walking into Nero’s Books, you jog up to the mezzanine to browse the latest magazines, picking up a Relix and a Rolling Stone. You walk down to Public Square and stroll across the cobblestones, noticing that the bulbs are popping up in the planters under the new maple trees. You walk into the Bake Shop and grab a latte and a bagel and sit down with some friends talking about last night’s game.

On your way out, you check the marquee of the Rivoli - next week, an up-and-coming comedian is in town for a show - you make a mental note to grab a pair of tickets next time you are online. You walk to Central Park and sit down on a bench under a pergola - already the gourd vines are snaking their way up the netting - in less than a month, this bench will be prime shady real estate. You flip open your laptop, log into the downtown wireless network, and check the city website - just three weeks until the big art festival focusing on plow sculptures. You head to the Rivoli site and buy a pair of tickets to the next show and then settle down for some work.

Your laptop bleeps at you a low-battery warning - wow, the morning went fast. You clamshell your laptop and head over to Olivia’s for some iced tea and a light lunch, noticing that next week, Market Alley Music will be sponsoring Ghost Town Choir for the lunch band. After a great grass-fed beef burger, you head over to your friend Steve’s loft in the third floor of the Patton Block, passing a couple of college students on their way into their studios on the second floor.

Steve’s living room looks out over the square and you both watch the college cross country team run through downtown as you both half-heartedly watch the Saturday afternoon Sportscenter on TV. After shooting the breeze for an hour and playing some Madden on his PS3, you realize it’s time to get back home.

Down to the cobblestone square and across Central Park, you stop in to Market Alley Wines to pick up a bottle of Spanish Albarino and put it into your pack with your laptop. You meander back to your bike and as you unlock it, you look back to the Square - the lights are on in the fountain now, and some of the loft dwellers are coming out for an early evening stroll. You look at the trees, a mixture of new and old, the pergolas greening up and the lights from store windows on all sides of the Square and you think to yourself - what a wonderful place to call home.