A thriving Downtown is what any city wants to see, and some people in the Queen City feel a town square could bring a hustle and bustle to the Downtown area, but first, they have to agree on a location.
Dickinson City administrator Joe Gaa agrees that a town square would be an added benefit to the business district in Downtown Dickinson.
“One it just creates the opportunity for more events. It brings people downtown. . . Bringing people to the district gives store owners the opportunity to bring them in their doors”.
For quite a few years now the city has been exploring the idea of putting the town square project at the corner of Villard and Sims Street, and some businesses owners in the area are in big support of that location.
“What I like about Site A is the visibility that it has. It will draw people downtown,” said Bernie Marsh, owner of Bernie’s Esquire Club.
Rosie Decker, who owns Special Occasions in the Downtown area, echoed Marsh’ s support of the site.
“People would be able to go to the park, go shopping, visit all the local businesses”.
However, the City of Dickinson and the Downtown Dickinson Associations have been exploring an alternative option to Site A, due to some of the obstacles it presents.
The alternative location would be a parking lot across the street from the American Bank Center in the middle of downtown, also known as Site B.
“I think Site B will get lost. It doesn’t have the visibility or draw that Site A has,” said Marsh.
Gaa said one of the reasons they are looking for another option for the project is because three buildings would only have to be purchased and knocked down to create space for Site A.
“So why would we just tear three of them down when we currently have the site available . . . .to not tear down historic buildings,” said Gaa.
The city administrator also said the three buildings would cost the city about $1 million to acquire, but Rosie Decker who owns one of them (Special Occasions) doesn’t know why it’s an issue now.
“These buildings have been here forever. They were here at the beginning. Did nobody see us? I’m not quite sure what the situation was,” said Decker.
The business owner also thinks Site B is not a great location for the downtown area either.
“Its in-between two buildings. There is a residential area all the way around it. Parking. . . how many spots are they taking away from parking Downtown,” said Decker.
Marsh who owns the other two buildings understands people don’t want to see perfectly good buildings torn down that could be used for new business, but he would like to see the city divide the town square between the two locations.
Possibly, a stage for concerts at one location, and a recreational area for ice skating and a splash pad at the other.
“If there is an event going on people would walk the two blocks from one to the other, so they would pass every Downtown business storefront,” said Marsh.
Gaa said no decision hasn’t been made yet on which location they are going to go with, and he will ask for the public’s opinion before the city commission makes a decision.
If the city goes with Site B the project will cost about $5 million.
Site A would cost around $7 million, but the city is still exploring the option of the downsizing the project for that location, so they don’t have to spend $1 million dollars to purchase the buildings for the additional space.
Site B is also considerably larger; It is about 52,000 square feet compared to only about 28,00 square feet for Site A.
The city commission recently approved $9,000 so site renderings for the town square project could be done for Site B.