11/27/17 – The architect studying downtown revitalization in Beaver Dam says the city has assets that have not yet been fully realized. The common council in July hired Zach Benedict with MKM Architecture and Design of Fort Wayne, Indiana to conduct a study of the downtown revitalization area which is bordered by Mill, Vita, Maple and Beaver streets. Mayor Becky Glewen pushed for the study. Glewen says her desire is to have the downtown as a destination and getting new people to visit, work and live in Beaver Dam is critical for that vision.
Benedict says in a lot of ways his job is like the television program The Antiques Roadshow in that he has to go around convincing people that they have treasures in their attic, or rather downtown. He says there are several interesting assets in downtown Beaver Dam that, given the right attention and leadership, could be very powerful. Benedict says one of the problems that he frequently encounters is people not realizing the authenticity of the place they call home. He points to the murals, festivals and kayak races along with the community center, ice cream shop and pizza parlor all within a two-block urban core. Benedict says his job is to put together a roadmap of how to stitch those assets together so that the community can have something to be proud to call home.
Benedict has been in Beaver Dam three times, holding a series of meetings with a planning committee, which is comprised of about a dozen downtown business representative and community leaders. The most recent round of meetings has been focused on prioritizing potential ideas. Benedict says his complete report is expected to be published by the end of the year with a series of redevelopment initiatives and strategies so that community input can then be collected. He says the study may offer a linear order in terms of “this has to happen before that.” However, in terms of the priorities of the community, that is something Benedict says that the people invested in the downtown will have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and really start to tackle. Mayor Glewen says in order for the findings of the study to be fully realized it will take a partnership between the public sector and private developers.