The Northland News was invited by Kearney Missouri Chamber of Commerce President Debbie Holt to attend a presentation by Shawna Searcy and Jenny Hayes on the Kearney Missouri Downtown Revitalization Group (KDRG).
Hayes began the presentation by giving some background on the program. The KDRG started in the Fall of 2013 with a discussion with a group of business owners in Kearney, Missouri. Scott Middleton of Kearney Trust Company joined the group. Middleton shared information about the Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC).
The Missouri Main Street Program was originally started in 1989 under the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED). The budget was cut in 2003 to the DED, and the program was formed as a non-profit 501c3 corporation in 2005. According to their website, the MMSC’s “mission is to enhance the economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being of historic downtown business districts in Missouri – within the context of historic preservation – using educational tools of the Main Street Four-Point Approach® to Revitalization (organization, promotion, design, and economic restructuring), as developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street Program.”
After learning of the program, the group realized that there was a model for what they were trying to do. The group found that everything did not have to be created from scratch. The Kearney Enrichment Council in connection with the City of Kearney applied for a matching grant from Missouri Main Street. The City of Kearney provided half of the funds for the grant and a group of community members and businesses raised the other half. In total, $9,600 was raised for the grant.
The vision statement of the KDRG is, “Our vision for downtown Kearney is a front porch with a vibrant, self-supporting economy that is family-friendly, warm and inviting destination; with an enduring hub of businesses and services, sustained by 21st century infrastructure while maintaining its historic character; with educational and recreational opportunities for all ages.”
Hayes and Searcy both highlighted the fact that the program is in its infancy with both saying that KDRG is just taking baby steps to implement portions of the program. A lot is up in the air as the project continues to grow and evolve as it takes input from various members of the community.
Presenting a black and white map with post-it notes and areas circled with permanent marker, Searcy said the map was intentionally presented this way until consensus was reached for the final project.
The map was split into five sections, Searcy cautioned that the downtown is not just Washington St. Saying Downtown extended from Major St. to the north, the train tracks to the west, 92 Hwy to the South, and S. Prospect St. to the East.
Searcy highlighted two of the largest areas on the map which included a circle roughly over the core of Downtown and another over the area surrounding Lion’s Park. Searcy said the first circle would be like a entertainment district where people would go to spend time. The hope for Lions Park would be an area for festivals.
Searcy also pointed out what is tentatively being called “The Promenade.” This would be First Street and the long term goal is for it to be “kind of like a mall, but more boutiquey.” The hope is that First St. could actually be shut down from traffic and be a place for the community to come together for events.
Hayes said that the Farmers Market that happens on Saturday morning was one of the first baby steps that have actually been implemented. The next is to implement something she termed as “Shop Saturday.” The idea is to focus on one day and have that build upon itself the rest of the week.
Hayes took a couple of questions at the end. An attendee of the meeting asked about what would be next for the Farmers Market. Hayes explained that the original idea was to completely shut down Washington St., but they realized that was a little too ambitious at first. Overtime the market has grown, and it is now necessary to do this. This Saturday Washington St. starting at the parking lot and extending to Grove St. will be completely shut-down. This will allow vendors to be on both sides of the road.
Searcy and Hayes put forth some loftier long term ideas in the presentation. We’d encourage you to check out the YouTube video of their presentation. It runs a total of about twenty minutes. Comment below and give us your thoughts about the goals of the group.