Groups Come Together To Work On Downtown Yankton Improvements
By Rob Nielsen firstname.lastname@example.org on
Yankton is closing in on a year working with Dakota Resources’ design:SD initiative on revitalizing the downtown district.
Thursday, volunteers constituting business and civic leaders from all over Yankton along with other volunteers met at Discovery Church for a discussion organized by design: SD, the Meridian District and Onward Yankton to go over what has been accomplished and how to tackle three projects meant to revitalize downtown.
Meridian District executive director Mollie Grey said that Thursday’s event was a way of pushing the conversation forward.
“Since Design South Dakota, I think a lot of what the community is saying (is), ‘What has actually been happening since Design South Dakota?’” Grey said. “Today’s event is going to be vital in having an action plan when you leave today.”
She added that 2017 has been rife with successes for downtown’s transformation, including the city’s ongoing façade improvement grant, new businesses moving to downtown, an effort to repaint light poles in the Meridian District, the farmer’s market, 1 Million Cups’ success and other events.
Grey also said that the Meridian District has been hard at work forming a board of directors.
“It’s not a completed board, but we are in the process of securing our 501(c)3,” she said. “A lot of what’s happening with that group is a lot of planning and a lot of excitement and trying to figure out what sustainable funding would look like and what sort of projects we want to complete and how a downtown organization should operate for Yankton.”
Onward Yankton president Tabitha Likness said some projects from the original design:SD events have stood out to members of the community.
“Three (projects) rise to the top as specific projects that we can tackle as a group and be able to show visually,” Likness said.
Those projects include constructing an archway monument, enhancing alleyways and creating lighting concepts for structures in the district.
John Beranek of Dakota Resources — a group that specializes in community development that hosts design:SD — was on hand at Thursday’s event to help lead the volunteers as they split into three different committees for each of the projects. For more than an hour, the committees deliberated on what needs to be accomplished over the coming months in order to make the projects come to fruition. The committees all agreed to meet up again in the coming months, as well.
Following the event, Beranek said Thursday was about putting a timeline to the process.
“We took three of the initiative teams and enhanced the work that they’re going to do by putting an actual timeline to it and getting people that were both at Design South Dakota and those who are new to be interested in a particular project,” Beranek said.
He said it’s largely up to the committees themselves to make these projects happen in the coming year.
“If (the groups) have energy around it, it will continue to grow, they’ll continue to find purpose and then wise actions after that,” he said.