Please stop the negative comments about Main Street and other stuff

“As we all know, our downtown is slowly deteriorating, which everyone has as a constant reminder of driving down the main street. Not to take away from the fact there is a glimmer of hope with the Northeast side of Main Street with the growth of current business and the revitalization of a new one to bring more small businesses to our downtown area helping to attract more people to the other businesses in our downtown area,” stated by Mayor John Nixon. Waushara Argus April 1, 2015.

This seems to be the mantra of some who have never invested their money into the downtown and general districts of Wautoma. While perhaps well meaning, it is a talking point that gives rise to diminishing the value and efforts of those who have.

I am curious, however, to know what is deteriorating? What, specifically is the “constant reminder?” Is this a reference to businesses or empty buildings? I think these are reasonable questions, and merit an honest answer. 

Drive down any Main Street in this state and you often see the same. There is always room for improvement and revitalization. However, if your standard of excellence in downtown business rests solely in the revitalization you speak of, then yes, Main Street is deteriorating.

New businesses have always been welcomed into the community. All of us are inter-reliant. New businesses attract more people and are good for the entire community. Anyone willing to hang out their shingle and take risks is very courageous. And yet, it should not be understated that existing markets help new businesses equally, and that no business in and of itself is a panacea.

Having had a business in Wautoma since 1981, I have seen many changes, most for the better. Yes, I drive down Main Street daily. So maybe I am looking through rose colored glasses, or just blinders, but I can’t help but notice the many improvements and new additions over the past 30+ years.

From Heath’s Farm Market, which in my opinion is one of the most beautiful focal points of downtown, all the way to the very outskirts of town, you will see the fruits of labor and financial investments in a wide variety of businesses. There is an understood alliance and a mutual respect among business owners for their accomplishments. We understand what it means to be in it for the duration and survive the challenges we have faced. 

From the tornado in ‘92, sewer project, losing Main Street parking in the downtown district, to the 2008 financial crisis, the “glimmer of hope” has been with us all along, Mr. Mayor, because we have stayed the course. Please consider this when you say that Main Street is deteriorating.

With all considered, more people (according to reports, we are to expect foot traffic to increase ten- fold) means that there is a need for additional and improved parking resources in the downtown district. Also, with more people safety concerns arise. Better lighting in parking areas, handicapped parking (currently there is none), traffic flow, and snow removal. 

If there is any deterioration it is with this infrastructure, and the onus of this lies directly with the city. My question to Mayor Nixon: How many businesses in the Downtown District will it take before the city can provide these improvements? Do businesses who operate under a 501 (c) (3) contribute to the tax base? And if not, who will foot the bill for the much needed improvements in the municipal parking? Please give us these much sought after answers.

/s/ Joanne R. Nelson, Owner, American Martial Arts Academy, 208 W. Main Street Wautoma