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Citizens and officials try to get to the bottom of North End stigma (photos and video)



This news story was published on July 16, 2015.
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Steven J. Van Steenhuyse, the City’s Director of Development Services

Steven J. Van Steenhuyse, the City’s Director of Development Services, led Thursday’s workshop

MASON CITY – The Mason City Development Services Department held a Public Workshop Thursday night to gather input and ideas to revitalize the North Federal Avenue corridor.

The work shop was held at Grace United Methodist Church, 200 14th Street NW. The workshop was open to all who would like to see the North Federal Avenue Corridor (a narrow strip of North Federal Avenue from 9th Street to 17th Street) revitalized. The City sought to learn from residents and business owners their opinions about issues facing this neighborhood, including such questions as:

– Why do some businesses succeed in the corridor, while others do not?
– Given the realities of the North Federal Corridor, what kinds of businesses could be successful?
– What inhibits rehabilitation of buildings along the corridor, and what can be done about it?
– How does the condition of public infrastructure (streets, curbs, sidewalks, parking, etc.) affect investment in the corridor?
– and others identified by the public.

Current and former councilmen try to get to the bottom of the North End stigma.

Current and former councilmen try to get to the bottom of the North End stigma.  (Alex Kuhn, Max Weaver and Travis Hickey)

“The City Council has directed staff to focus on the North Federal Corridor, to do something about the blighted areas and encourage redevelopment,” said Steven J. Van Steenhuyse, the City’s Director of Development Services. “We want to begin the process by talking with those people who are most directly affected by conditions in the North End. This workshop will help us to design a program for revitalizing the North Federal Corridor.”

Small group discussion, as part of the workshop

Small group discussion, as part of the workshop

About 40 citizens attended the meeting.  After a presentation explaining the city’s objectives, Mr. Van Steenhuyse asked folks to break into four groups in order to brainstorm ideas for the North End corridor.

Many of the ideas brought forth were connected to on-going concerns of citizens, including safety and crime issues; poor lighting; no signage; blight; bad sidewalks; no incentives for businesses to relocate to the area; the “North End” name; too many rental properties; and more.

The solutions from city officials from an earlier brainstorm session they held were what you might expect: An expansion of the “Micro-Enterprise” program (which has largely been a bust, except for Roller City, which continues to take $5,000 a year); more volunteerism, more code enforcement, and more seeking of grant dollars for upgrades.  Another idea kicked around was changing Federal Avenue from four lanes to two lanes, to usher in on-street parking on that street.

City officials held a workshop Thursday evening at Grace United Methodist Church, aimed at ending the stigma in the…

Posted by NorthIowaToday.com on Thursday, July 16, 2015

Video from the North End workshop, held Thursday evening in Mason City, focused on revitalizing North Federal Avenue … http://northiowatoday.com/2015/07/16/citizens-and-officials-try-to-get-to-the-bottom-of-north-end-stigma-photos-and-video/

Posted by NorthIowaToday.com on Thursday, July 16, 2015

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16 Responses to Citizens and officials try to get to the bottom of North End stigma (photos and video)

  1. rukidding Reply Report comment

    July 17, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    The sad thing is that when the schools left the north end so did many families. Then family owned homes were turned into rental units. I think we need to take a serious look at the ratio between owner occupied housing and rental units in a block. I also believe the people in a neighborhood should have the right to decide if they want rental units on their block because I think there is a link between rental property and some of the issues going on in the north end and elsewhere in town.
    I would also like to see officers walking the neighborhoods up there so their presents are known to the good people too.

    • literacy before entitlement Reply Report comment

      July 17, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      What presents do you hope they will bring? Dictionaries? GED study guides?

    • NIT Publisher Reply Report comment

      July 18, 2015 at 12:36 am

      Great points.

  2. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    July 17, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Bob McKinnis and a D9 cat would have it fixed in 24 hours.

  3. MasonCityOnTheRise Reply Report comment

    July 17, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    It angers me to hear they are renovating the downtown/central park area so extensively then put on a sap meeting like this! I truly believe something corrupt is afoot – someone is more worried about the aesthetics outside their office or business rather than the condition of the whole town. Why not pour thousands into federal? I like the idea of having a “Northern gardens” like Clear lake has, but it would have to have appeal, purpose, and visibility for it to be successful. Everyone please pray that our community can bounce back again.

  4. Sad but true Reply Report comment

    July 17, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Mason Citys North end is just like the rest of the country. They know it needs to be renovated, but want somebody else to pay for it. The American way. The North end has been neglected by people that live in the North end for 50 years! They let it go to hell, they can fix it up. Very simple

    • LVS Reply Report comment

      July 17, 2015 at 8:42 am

      @Sad-Nothing you said could be farther from the truth. We had discussions about people like you who make comments like that without knowing what they are talking about. The people that have lived here and “OWN” their homes and businesses take good care of their property. The problems are with the absentee owners who bought during the bust and put nothing into their property. pete’s place is a classic example of this. Slum lords have bought houses and rent them out under HUD and could care less about keeping them up. They just collect from HUD and do a substandard job of repair or collect from insurance when the house is condemed and go on to destroy the next neighborhood. Maybe it will…

      • Sad but true Reply Report comment

        July 17, 2015 at 1:13 pm

        Sorry LVS, the peeling paint, broken windows, and the 2 foot tall grass threw me, I guess I did not see what I thought I saw

        • LVS Reply Report comment

          July 17, 2015 at 3:40 pm

          @Sad-You eyes didn’t let you down. It is there, but that was the reason for the meeting. We are trying to take action to clean up the mess and could certainly use a little help.

    • LVS Reply Report comment

      July 17, 2015 at 8:46 am

      cont.-people like you had no complaints when they spent millions of tax dollars downtown or in Indianhead Square. They are installing more lights in the downtown area right now and are spending thousands of dollars painting signs for bicycles. We pay taxes too so why can’t some of our money be used to up grade the North End.

  5. LVS Reply Report comment

    July 17, 2015 at 7:02 am

    It was a very interesting, productive meeting with a lot of good ideas from a lot of different people. Mr. Van Steenhuyse did a excellent job of presenting the city’s wishes. A couple of the council members were there along with Mr. Trout with some of his staff. It was nice to see the city taking a interest in the North End. Now, we will wait and see what happens.

  6. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    July 17, 2015 at 6:35 am

    Which (if any) of the candidates running for the vacant city council seat were there?

    • Reality Check Reply Report comment

      July 17, 2015 at 6:48 am

      Great Question!

    • LVS Reply Report comment

      July 17, 2015 at 6:55 am

      Bill Schickle was there. He didn’t speak much but he did participate.

      • Reality Check Reply Report comment

        July 17, 2015 at 7:52 am

        Thanks LVS. And I wish you well in this process. Although I live near Jefferson School I am interested and we all all Mason Citians who want the best for this community. Usually when all is said and done, more is said than done. Lets hope this time is different. The upcoming elections could be the leaverage to make things happen. Stay on them Matt!