Downtown Williston Project - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Downtown Williston Project

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Business took a shift in the 70's and 80's when big box retail became the craze, abandoning many downtown areas.

City of Williston Planning and Zoning representative Rachel Ressler says that shift is starting to balance out and in Williston, a reinvestment effort is taking hold.

Jennifer Thorgramson tells us about the plan to revitalize downtown Williston, focusing on the little things that gives a town an identity.

The City of Williston is no stranger to change, the landscape is changing everyday.

So when public works made plans to dig in --- the planning and zoning committee asked the community for plans to build up.

(Rachel Ressler, City of Williston Planning & Zoning) "It's about creating an atmosphere that will inspire people to live, work and play down here."

The water and sewer lines have aged out and with the coming construction, the 'streetscape' study now aims to revive downtown.

(Rachel Ressler, City of Williston Planning & Zoning) "Next summer they'll be ripping up the streets to put in new water and sewer, but then when we go vertical, we'll be putting in things like trees and benches and wider sidewalks and changing the lane structure and the traffic pattern."

In addition to 'going vertical' another study is looking at downtown economics, housing, parking, business structure, grants and funding.

(Rachel Ressler, City of Williston Planning & Zoning) "We're kind of at the midway point of that process now. We've heard from a lot of focus groups, people who have a lot of interest downtown, a lot of business owners who work down here and people who are interested in developing down here and then people who use downtown. We've gathered a lot of information and we've started to hear a lot of ideas over and over."

Ressler says the Downtown Project has a lot to do with optimizing the use of buildings that already exist.

For example, in housing: a number of second and third floors are empty and would make excellent apartments.

Parking is another recommendation they've heard repeatedly, bike lanes, events, live music, and public gathering spaces.

(Rachel Ressler, City of Williston Planning & Zoning) "How many other places still have a movie theater sign up that says, 'Our Pictures Talk?' It's unique and that's Williston. By investing in the town, hopefully it will raise the quality of life here and make people want to stay."

Because while the landscape may continue to change, a collective voice of the community can build a timeless downtown to call home.

In Williston, Jennifer Thorgramson, KX News.

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