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Downtown master plan provides path to revitalization

With the official approval of the downtown master plan approved by city council this week, the future of downtown Marshalltown has never looked brighter. This plan is collaborative in nature, requiring the cooperation of public and private entities alike. We are happy to endorse this master plan and encourage our city officials, business owners and residents to get behind it.

This is not the first time such a plan was created. In the past, a plan was made and set on the shelf. It wasn’t until last year’s tornado this effort to spur development and beautification of our downtown. We as a community cannot let this plan fall to the back burner. Revitalizing our downtown is far too important to our city to do so.

A better downtown has an obvious economic impact. The more things to do and the better it looks, the more people — residents and visitors — who want to spend time downtown near our local businesses. Additionally, a better downtown is attractive for those thinking about making a move here. That’s especially true of young people.

Millennials now outnumber any other age group. Research about this demographic has shown strong desire to be in vibrant communities with lots of activities and unique businesses. More than previous generations, millennials will spend disposable income to shop, eat, drink and live in downtowns. We just have to get them here.

Marshalltown and other micropolitan cities will never be Des Moines or Iowa City. But who can beat travel times at 15 minutes or less to get nearly anywhere you need to go? Or the small-town feel with countless opportunities? An even better downtown makes us a more attractive place to settle down.

This plan is as much about attracting trend chasers as it is about better quality of life in general. Better traffic flow and more parking options, for example, make the experience easier for all our residents. And one rule for parking times makes city enforcement much easier. Additionally, more public green spaces offer better quality of life.

The downtown master plan is truly a public project, put together after months of research and feedback from residents. Its implementation will also have to be public in nature. Of course there will sometimes be differences in opinion on certain projects, but we will work through them because compromise is needed to revitalize the heart of Marshalltown.