Defined ideas and concepts for rejuvenating downtown Brainerd were presented at Lincoln Elementary School Monday.
The proposals, part of the third public information meeting by the Brainerd Restoration Committee, included a town square, bike trails and aesthetic improvements.
Damon Farber of Damon Farber and Associates, the architect firm that is developing the downtown restoration master plan for the committee, said nothing is yet set in stone and a final plan is not completed.
"That's not what these meetings are about," but just one phase of a larger plan, said Farber. "We're providing an atmosphere to attract businesses to downtown. If we don't do anything, nothing will happen at all."
The proposals will be presented at a special Brainerd City Council meeting 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at city hall.
The most notable proposals are the town square and the bike trails. The town square proposal would involve turning the current Brainerd City Hall parking lot, on Laurel and South Sixth streets, into a plaza, and possibly the veteran's memorial currently located at the Crow Wing County Courthouse could be located there, if veteran's groups approve.
"That's the biggest area where people told me they thought there was a waste of parking," said Brained Restoration board member and downtown business owner Nila Patrick.
Farber said that if the parking currently provided by the lot couldn't be replaced, it wouldn't have even been an idea presented at the meeting.
The bike trail proposal would run along Front Street, by the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe railroad tracks, and could possibly connect to Cuyuna Range, Baxter and the Paul Bunyan trails. Along with places to park there would be kiosks directing people to various spots downtown.
Enhancing the streetscape of downtown streets was also discussed. Some additional proposals include: decorative fencing, informational kiosks, outside seating, better street lighting, hanging baskets, planters, directional signs, business banners, building facades and trees. Also proposed was placing boulevards on South Sixth Street.
Brainerd Restoration also heard from the public about some proposals.
Ray Burnett, Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union president and chief executive officer, also made a presentation at the meeting on the need for a hotel and convention center in downtown.
Burnett feels such a facility would raise property values in the area and bring higher-end retail businesses into Brainerd to compete for downtown property.
Patrick said she would hope for better alley lighting and less visible trash bins in the downtown area.
Downtown Brainerd is roughly defined as an area that stretches from the north side of Washington Street to Oak Street and from the Mississippi River to the end of Laurel Street, which continues behind the railroad yards.
The first phase of improvements could occur in 2003, when the city has tentatively scheduled the reconstruction of Laurel Street from the Mississippi River bridge to South Sixth Street.
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