On February 6th, a group of a dozen local residents met with representatives from MSA Professional Services (MSA) to discuss the City’s downtown district.  The purpose of this meeting was to kick off a Downtown Revitalization planning process that will eventually involve all segments of the community in the development of a coordinated plan for the future of downtown La Porte City.

The primary focus of this initial meeting was to brainstorm a list of ideas and key words in four main categories:  Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and how each of these relate to the community. After discussing each category, the group created a preliminary list of items that can be used as a starting point for the development of a comprehensive downtown plan.

Strengths: historic downtown buildings, bike trail/gazebo, business proximity/compact downtown district, brick streets, bakery, local phone company, city buildings, great school facilities and aquatic center, museum and active community groups and clubs.

Weaknesses: 18 inch curbs, no kid-friendly meeting site downtown, aging infrastructure, buildings in disrepair, vacant properties and empty downtown lots, lack of patronizing local businesses, brick streets, buildings not used for businesses.

Opportunities: pedestrian bridge over the dam, Wi-Fi on Main Street, improving curb appeal, Main Street restaurants, enhance farmers market, Improve on family festival, close to interstate system, Downtown living (apartments above businesses), green space downtown, historic buildings, connecting bike trail to downtown

Threats: existing buildings don’t easily facilitate new businesses, aging population/community, citizens’ attitudes are negative, competition from and proximity to Waterloo/Cedar Falls/Cedar Rapids, rent costs, utility costs due to aging infrastructure, flooding

The committee will build on and further explore these ideas at a public meeting that will be held March 6th at the La Porte City Community Center beginning at 7 PM.  Area residents are encouraged to attend this meeting and offer their input.

Along with the information gathered from this public meeting, MSA will also conduct an Existing Condition Survey that will assess the downtown district in areas such as the availability of parking, along with the physical condition of the streets, sidewalks, facades, etc. The data compiled from the public meeting and Existing Condition Survey will then be used to help establish goals, priorities and actions designed to revitalize downtown La Porte City.