Sampling of comments from downtown meetings in Willmar, Minn.
WILLMAR -- Here's a sampling of comments from the four stakeholder meetings that Willmar Design Center representatives and city officials held with African, Latino, institutional/government, and business-owner groups this * African -- Community members love the Willmar environment and have great jobs at Jennie-O Turkey Store, but need housing downtown. Families and business owners prefer downtown where rent is cheaper. Green space would be helpful. Parking is an issue; perhaps establish a fee that would allow business people to use a parking space. The community needs a funeral home and a place to worship. Need for more interpreters at Rice Hospital.
* Latino -- Diversity is an asset. Downtown has a little bit of everything. The economy in Kandiyohi County has been stable during the recession and business opportunities are available. We are here to create wealth. We have a higher level of small business survival. Would like to see something tangible happen.
* Institutional/government -- Downtown assets include small businesses, The Barn Theatre, medical facilities, walkability and diversity. Library, churches and government offices draw people downtown. Downtown has historic buildings and is the location for many activities. Need for more street lights, green space. Remove weeds on private and public property and provide safer pedestrian crossings. Need for signs directing people from Litchfield Avenue to downtown. Create broadband hotspots, and create a park or open space on Fourth Street between Litchfield Avenue and Benson Avenue.
* Business and property owners -- Assets are diversity, medical center, heritage/history/architecture, stable and longtime businesses, business leadership and management, good community civic spirit, professional hub, welcoming environment, and businesses continuing to invest in their businesses. Need to keep buildings attractive, keep streets clean, remove weeds and clean dirty store front windows. Uneven sidewalks cause problems for pedestrians, no gathering places for people, perhaps create an employee sticker to park their cars downtown, need more street lighting, more promotion and marketing of what is downtown, and discuss perception downtown is unsafe.