MCBD director lays out 2013 projects for City Council

As the weather begins to warm, many downtown activities will begin getting underway.

Jenny Etter, director of the Marshalltown Central Business District (MCBD), brought the Marshalltown City Council up to speed on its new and perennial projects slated for the upcoming months.

The MCBD is planning a downtown cleanup May 1 that will aim to get businesses and volunteers to turn out and tidy the city for many of the events to be held downtown in the spring and summer. A parking lot cleanup is also in the works, Etter said.

Also on May 1, volunteers will plant the berms on the street corners, and hanging flower baskets will also return, as is yearly custom.

The MCBD has already had to replace seven light post banners along Main Street, and Etter said it is working to correct the problem by making them more flexible.

“We don’t know what we are going to do about that,” she said. “It’s been a constant problem that we will have to address.”

The Farmers’ Market on Main will kick off May 30 and will run 14 weeks until Oct. 3. Etter said 30 vendors have already signed up.

“Hopefully, it will be a huge event this year,” she said.

The Latino Festival is scheduled for June 9. That committee is already organizing bands, vendors and children’s activities.

This year’s Holiday Stroll will be held Nov. 23.

“We hope it will be fairly productive at bringing more people downtown,” Etter said.

The MCBD plans to complete phase one of the pedestrian walkway by October with full completion – including murals, lighting, archway and the coating on the walkway – set for October 2014.

Randy Wetmore, city administrator, said the council would need to re-approve the agreement because of a slight extension to the south on the area to be rehabbed. The original contact specified the square footage of the space, and since it has changed, the council would need to approve a new agreement as a matter of bookkeeping.

Bids for the alleyway resurfacing have yet to come in, so changing the agreement should not prove problematic, Etter said.

Another rehab of the McGregor’s building hit a snag when contractors discovered they needed to replace the cornices in the building, Etter said. Those cornices, which are wood covered in tin, cannot be fabricated the way other aspects of the building can.

New member packages, including parking lot maps and sign information should provide businesses with incentive to become MCBD members, Etter said. She said downtown revitalization helps strengthen the local economy.

“Significant money has been brought to the downtown community through property acquisition and rehabilitation,” Etter said. “We have had a busy year.”

Etter said making regulation of downtown signs easy to understand and to follow is one of the goals she has as MCBD director. The regulations should be as objective as possible.

Wetmore said having easy-to-understand criteria that business owners can refer to, knowing that if they hit a specified number of items they are in compliance, will prove key. It will take some of the guess work out of the situation, he added.

“We are never going to make everybody happy,” Etter said. “But we definitely support having regulations for downtown signage. You simply have to have it. I think it just needs to be fair and consistent for everybody.”