Mini Editorial

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lake Avenue

extreme makeover

Under consideration now is a plan to change Lake Avenue downtownto two lanes, allowing for a broad sidewalk that could host outdoor cafes, gathering places, flower gardens and so on. It is certainly an idea worth thinking about.

Changing downtown Storm Lake is an issue that has been on the agenda for as long as we can remember. Years ago, an actual architectural plan was drawn up to cover the whole thing with kind of a glass dome, making it over into an indoor mall that looked like it belonged in an episode of "The Jetsons."

Needless to say, that one didn't fly.

More recently we have looked at Main Street programs that would perhaps strip away some of the 1960's look street level cladding to make use of the historical structures underneath.

In waiting, we have plans for a project to connect downtown with the AWAYSIS area, perhaps with a new "theme." Good ideas in both cases, and of course, all in need of funding.

Ultimately, though, it won't be a makeover that determines the future of downtown, or even a big chain drug store. In an era of bix box stores and strip malls, downtowns most everywhere face the same challenges.

What we will need is bring foot traffic back. And that will take stocking the downtown with charming shops run by local entrepreneurs - not cookie-cutter chain stores, or service type offices on the main drag. We will have to incubate such developments, and celebrate them.

And, of course, we will have to change our habits and stop taking our local retailers for granted. They should get first shot at our dollars, not the malls in the surrounding large cities.

Two lanes, historical preservation, themes and other aestheric efforts are great and worthy of all consideration. But to be successful, the formula must include the goods people need locally, paired with a commitment to shop locally.