The Junction City Downtown Revitalization Initiative appointed its first board members and officially became an organization under the Geary County Community Foundation when they met earlier this month.
“We're hoping that by formalizing the group we can start making some headway,” said Theresa Bramlage, chairperson.
Revitalization groups targeting different parts of town have come and gone in Junction City for many years. Bramlage said by making the group official with a set board and bylaws they have a better chance of succeeding whereas some of the others in past fell apart.
“When we when we look at other communities that haven't gone anywhere with their downtown revitalization, it's because it's been short lived,” she said. “What our plans are, by formalizing the group, is to take ownership. Each board member is going to take ownership and the success of this.”
The next step is to create bylaws and a mission statement and having strategic planning. Right now, they fall under the GCCF 501C-3 non-profit but eventually Bramlage said they hope to have their own.
They also look to learn from groups like Emporia Main Street. According to the Emporia Main Street website the group established in 1991 with a goal to recruit new businesses and revitalize downtown and has had continued success.
“The program has fostered a revival of downtown in recent decades,” the website states. “Many historic buildings have been rehabilitated, including the Granada Theater, which was rescued from demolition by dedicated citizens. In addition to historic rehabilitation, downtown has undergone streetscaping projects and several blocks of new commercial and living space have been developed. Emporia Main Street is leading the initiative to continue downtown revitalization through its 4-Point Approach of design, promotion, organization, and business enhancement.”
Bramlage said the Junction City group will, as part of their research, visit with the people in Emporia who were in instrumental and making that happen.
Funding for Junction City Downtown Revitalization Initiative started with a donation from the Bramlage Family Foundation. The group is also involved in today’s Match Day with the JCCF and have volunteers who are exploring available grants.
Bramlage said she and the board believes with a solid plan in place and a concerted step-by-step effort, revitalization of the downtown is possible.
She recalled when she was a child, she and her siblings had paper routes downtown where they delivered 100-plus newspapers. She remembers it as a flourishing area.
“We used to have a thriving downtown community,” she said. “Maybe it was my young mind and my young perspective, that I thought we had a successful downtown at the time but we had restaurants, we had bars, and we had thriving retail businesses. I know today's world is different, but we're hopeful that we can start bringing the arts, the culture, the restaurants back to our downtown area.”
Other members appointed at the Oct. 1 meeting were: Terry Butler, vice chair; Brad Johnson, treasurer; Maureen Gustafson, secretary; Todd Godfrey, Jeff Underhill and Sheila Markley. The board will also have representatives from the city, the county, Economic Development Commission, the Geary County Planning Group and the Dorothy Bramlage Public Library.