Your Two Cents: Short list would help beautify

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 26, 2004

Question: What else should be done to make our community a prettier place to live?

I have thought about this question for a long time and three main points stay in the front of my “To Do” list of for Albert Lea.

1. The corner stone of our downtown is the Freeborn National Bank Building that has been vacant for seven or more years now.

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Hard to believe it has been that many years.

The City now owns it and would like to sell it.

I think we are all going to have to invest in that building to make it attractive for sale.

New windows,

roof repaired, and repair on the outside.

It would cost us alot — but how much is the city loosing year after year with it vacant?


Clean-Up, Paint-Up, Fix-Up.

Many towns have this every year and last year our city council had a mini-Fix-Up Day.

In my mind, let’s keep going with that program and build on it.

Designate a week for Paint-Up (etc), open the land-fill to residents, and have the news media cover the improvements being made.

It’s not hard to pick up a brush and paint a door or wall.

It would make a big improvement to many buildings downtown and we would have a lasting sparkle.

3. A City Facade Program.

Many states have programs to revitalize their small cities.

Iowa has The Mainstreet Program that Cedar Falls has used to build a facade program for their downtown.

Waseca, MN is starting a Mainstreet Program to preserve & improve their old buildings.

Little Falls, MN, and White Bear Lake, MN have used their investment to bring in more retail stores, help owners rent the second stories and encourage new businesses to expand to downtown or start a new branch store from another city. Business recruitment

has to be a top priority.

The League of Cities also has the “American Downtown Program” that zeroes in on facades, awnings and second story improvements.

Our city is working on the Lee Center Building right now &045; this program might help us with that and other areas downtown.

Some programs are matching grants with the owners paying a percentage or a low interest loan program (Cedar Falls, Iowa, Little Falls, MN) with the local banks involved.

The Mainstreet Program and America Downtown Program provide hands-on, on-site help to city officials who want to start or energize their downtowns.

There are other programs out there too — and not just Albert Lea’s Downtown should be addressed. There are plenty of places for us to consider.

I bring up the downtown because I work there, and consider the downtown the “face” of a city.

When people think of a town, they visualize the downtown as “The City”.

How do we want people to remember us?

And, if the whole city wants to be involved, that would be even better!

Thanks for letting us give our “2 cents worth” in the paper.

Mary Ellen Johnson