August 25, 2016
By David Nordby The Brillion News
BRILLION – The Redevelopment Authority Commission (RDA) will hold a big meeting on Thursday, September 8, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Carstens Mill and are encouraging community members to attend.
“The meeting is going to be focused on how to improve downtown Brillion, what’s happening, this visioning and what are some opportunities,” Community Development Director and RDA Coordinator Cheryl Welch said.
In late 2015, the City of Brillion reached out to East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission to help create a vision for the existing downtown area on Main Street.
Brillion is part of a membership with East Central, so unlike previous instances, the research on the city was done free of charge. Eric Fowler of East Central will be in attendance to contribute to the meeting and answer questions on September 8. Also in attendance will be Jon Bartz of Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to help kickoff Brillion ‘s partnership with Connect Communities.
The upcoming meeting is a follow up to April’s meeting, where some community members attended and offered great insight, according to Welch. But in two weeks, they’re looking for more.
“We really would like the community to come and get engaged … to hear we’re not just sitting and watching time go by, but the RDA is actively working on a few projects,” Welch said.
A few of the many projects for the downtown include becoming part of the trail system in Wisconsin, bringing campsites to Horn Park and revitalizing the HUB.
The HUB is the largest project involved in the vision, according to RDA Chairperson Beth Wenzel. Wenzel says that the RDA tries to conduct things like a business, rather than a government.
“The end goal is to make improvements happen,” Wenzel said. “It’s an opportunity for others to join in and expand. Growth in one area can spurt out growth in other areas.”
Since converting Carstens Mill, Wenzel has noticed that there aren’t enough accommodations in Brillion, which creates a prime opportunity for people to get involved in different areas.
Back in April one of the exercises that East Central conducted was asking participants to identify areas of the city as important (jewels) or areas that need improvement (junk).
The jewels/junk revealed that “jewels” represented 52% of responses, while “junk” was 48%.
Many of the “jewel” responses are already integrated parts of the community including the Brillion Community Center, Econofoods, library, museum, schools and high profile businesses.
Some of the “junks” were only listed as needing a little help in appearance. Another area of concern raised by participants is that they wish for more consistency among the appearance of Main Street.
Welch rejects the idea that downtowns are no longer important for cities of any size.
“I think that they are important. We can make them important within our community and bring in businesses that help support that,” Welch said.
According to Welch, the ultimate goal is to “connect the dots” of the city.
“A lot of times we think about one thing and we don’t see how the big picture comes together so then there’s loose ends later and we’re always backtracking,” Welch said. “It’d be nice if we could really picture this.”
This story was featured in the August 25, 2016 edition of The Brillion News.