A Brief History of the Block Head Organizing Project
There had been talk of organizing the downtown owners going back to the summer of 03. A comparison was made to urban neighborhoods, where folks formed Block Clubs to keep each other informed about important challenges and opportunities in the community.
Then in January 04, we had a big snow. There was much discussion about working together to get the snow cleared so that the downtown district could be as well shoveled and plowed as Target. The concept was captured by a comparison to a townhome ASSOCIATION, where everyone chips in a little and the snow is removed from everyones property.
In the spring of 04, the E. R. Team and the Action Squad met and drafted a list of Potential Block Heads. Building and business owners were selected because of their perceived willingness to carry the ball. A letter was drafted and an invitation was sent.
The first meeting was May 25th. Topics included Perception vs. Reality, Upcoming Events, Parking, Area-wide Marketing and Data Gathering. The group was large, vocal and enthusiastic.
The second meeting lacked the personal promotion of the first, it conflicted with several other gatherings and attendance was down. Information shared included the Community Calendar, the 4th of July Celebration, Crazy Daze and ArtSwirl. There was also an update on Highway 3, the Paver Project, and Village-on-the-Cannon. Handouts included the DRLF Application Package, the Parking Card, and the Action Squads Proposals for Downtown Improvements. A spirited discussion about Data Gathering ensued.
The next steps are the Appointment of Block Heads, the Detailing of the Job Description, the Assignment of a Calling Tree and the Distribution of the 1st Newsletter. These steps will be pursued through on-on-one meetings.
The short-term goal for the Block Heads is simply to establish an effective network of contacts on a block-by-block basis. There is a need for a regular distribution of information to downtown stakeholders through an additional channel beyond snail mail, email, and advertising. There is also a need for regular collection of information from stakeholders about concerns, statistical evidence of business climate, future plans, etc. Human interaction is the key.
The long-term goals for the Block Heads includes:
1. Snow Removal
2. Safety and Security
3. Street Light Maintenance
4. Crosswalk Enhancement
5. Speed Enforcement
7. Area Marketing
8. Garbage Handling
9. Unified Hours, etc.
10. Health Insurance
If you are interested in becoming a Block Head or have goals for the Block Heads to pursue, just send us an e-mail, give us a call or stop us on the street.