WEST BEND -
The Business Improvement District has accomplished some of what
City Administrator T.J. Justice called “low-hanging fruit” to
improve downtown West Bend — or the things that do not require
significant funding and can be done quickly.
The BID Strategic Planning committee met for the first time
Thursday morning in an effort to map out the larger, long-term
projects which require significantly greater investments of time
Economic Development Specialist Amanda Knack, in an interview
before the meeting, said these larger projects may include
things like road or sidewalk improvements.
She said the city would take the lead with any street projects,
but the BID could encourage the city to do them.
Justice said several reports were made over the past 15 years
focusing on downtown West Bend. These reports all had ideas for
“The sad part of all these studies is that … nothing has been
done with them,” said Mike Husar, BID president and owner of
Husar’s House of Fine Diamonds.
Husar said there was some effort between 1982 and 1984 in making
some improvements to the downtown area. Other than that, not
much has been done.
Since it was the strategic planning committee’s first meeting,
the members worked on gathering ideas of what should be done in
the downtown area.
During a brainstorming session, their list of ideas included:
reconstructing Main Street, opening the north end, opening the
riverfront, area parking, installing bike racks and information
kiosks, holiday decorations and attractions and revitalizing Old
There was also an umbrella category labeled economic items,
which includes marketing the area and creating incentives for
more business to locate themselves downtown.
This is a preliminary list, so it may change
based on what the committee prioritizes at later sessions.
One item committee members did go into
detail with is parking.
Brian Culligan, committee member and owner
of West Bend Tap & Tavern, said the issue of parking and the
possibility of creating a parking structure has been thrown
Justice said a parking structure likely does
not make sense for a city West Bend’s size, as it would be hard
to generate enough revenue to cover expenses and maintenance.
Some members also wondered if a lack of
available parking may be more of a perception issue.
The committee is seeking public input on
what other businesses they would like to see downtown.
Husar said a previous study suggested more
restaurants were needed downtown. “We now have them, so we need
to figure out what other shops we need,” he said.
Justice said after the
committee has whittled down the list, he thinks there should be
a public hearing to gather more feedback.