Downtown Montezuma Face Lift
Terence Blain, Executive Director
Montezuma Community Development
When a person chooses to undergo a face lift, it's typically due to tired, aging, old, saggy and baggy conditions that, if reversed, will hopefully improve the recipients attitude about themselves. And secondarily, make a positive difference in their relationships and future interactions that impact their overall well-being.
But face lifts are a commitment and they are expensive. It becomes easier to just deal with the wrinkles and hope for the best. The harsh reality is that the sags and bags eventually lead to old age and to that inevitable expiration date. So we apply mud masks, concealers, and invest in cheap as-seen-on-tv gadgets to firm, tone and hide our imperfections. But underneath it all, we're just falling apart. Not very comforting is it?
Downtown Montezuma is in desperate need of a face lift and has long passed it's expiration date. Many of our downtown buildings are more than 125 years old and few have been maintained to a level that will regenerate them into their next phase of life. Downtown Montezuma is important, it is the core of our community, the place where our roots as a community began to take shape, and our living room. Sadly, our couch cushions are tattered and worn, and the slip covering from the 1960's has lost that welcoming vibe. Very few of us feel comfortable or spend too much time there. We are all guilty of it, but yet we say how important downtown is to us.
Analogies aside, the local efforts to create a vision for the future of Montezuma's Downtown are continuing to press ahead. The visit from the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Iowa Downtown Resource Center last October was a terrific exercise that gave our community the opportunity to express their concerns, hopes, desires, and dreams for our future. The written report from that visit is now available online on MontezumaIowa.Org. Hard copies of the report are being provided to every downtown building/business owner, or available for on-site review at the Montezuma Public Library.
The report is very telling about where we are as a community and why we are all experiencing various levels of frustration. Yes, we have tremendous assets that define us, but we EACH need to ask ourselves how WE will make the effort TOGETHER to make a difference in OUR future.
We need to say thank you to the City of Montezuma for their financial participation and partnership in Montezuma Community Development's activities and for funding the downtown study last October. These are important steps, and we appreciate the City's involvement.
But aren't you just sick of studies and nothing ever happening? Trust me, I've heard this expressed over and over again. When you read the report, you will discover why that is, but in the meantime let me make it plain, EVERYONE IS WAITING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO FIX THE PROBLEM.
In my travels throughout the community, I consistently hear:
"You know what we need here..."
"I see how busy you are trying to help the community, good luck with that...."
"I wouldn't want your job."
"I appreciate what you're doing, but I'm afraid you're spinning your wheels."
"I don't understand why (name benefactor here) doesn't just fix, build, give money for, open something," yadda, yadda, yadda..
When I hear these comments I usually respond, "we're working on it." But this reply only perpetuates complacency and acceptance of the status quo. This community is lamenting about what it used to be, rather than looking ahead to what it can become. You can choose to be involved and make a difference, or you can give up on your town. WHICH GROUP DO YOU BELONG TO?
Monday night's city council meeting was a great example of people in our community who have not given up on their town, specifically Downtown Montezuma. History was made as more than 25 citizens drew their support for downtown improvements that we must make to survive into the future. We asked for the city's financial support to bring transformative change to our downtown storefront facades. The city council agreed to provide matching funds, up to $63,000 should we receive a grant from the State for a $700,000 downtown renewal project. In the near future, the city will also revisit the need to renovate the Memorial Hall. We are grateful!
Deb Collum-Calderwood with Poweshiek Iowa Development is working alongside our organization as we meet with Montezuma's downtown building owners and negotiate their commitment to the effort. Each building owner that chooses to participate in the project must match a minimum 10% investment based on the scope of the facade work they agree to undertake. The facade project, supported by CDBG funding will hopefully be a first phase of Montezuma's Downtown Development Project.
If you are still reading, you realize that we are not going to allow our downtown study to collect dust on the shelf or live in a desk drawer. Chances are you are in the WE CAMP and you know that YOU need to do something to help. Some of you can help financially, some of you can get involved as volunteers and ask what you can do to support the project. Many of you can do both! Don't wait for someone else to do it for you.
We need private investment for the first phase of our downtown project. Our first priority is to raise $70,000 before January 7, 2013. Yes, this is a tall order in a short amount of time, but you may be considering a year-end charitable giving plan. This is a perfect local project to support that will directly benefit you. If the City of Montezuma and our downtown building owners are willing to put in $126,000, what are you willing to do?
You may make a check payable to Montezuma Community Development Corporation before January 7, 2013. Note your check for the Downtown Revitalization Fund and then mail or drop your check off at the Montezuma State Bank. MCD is a 501(c)3, so your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent of the law. OR, ask the MCD office for a Letter of Support indicating a personal match IF we receive grant funding.
Consider long term investment in our downtown. If you can't write a check now, you can make a pledge to support future community development projects and our operating budget. We expect to make an announcement very soon about a new downtown project that will address the need for a destination restaurant and other mixed-use. You miss The Apple Basket? You think one person has the ability to buy a building, renovate it and open a business and expect to be successful? This applies to any downtown business venture, not just the need for a destination restaurant. Ask yourself why we have empty storefronts, then read this paragraph again.
Become a Volunteer in Your Community
The volunteerism and sense of pride in our community through local beautification efforts is a prime example of how, if everyone gives a little bit of themselves, the gift of time can make a huge difference.
Young families and young adults are busy, but so are retirees and those who have given back to this community one-hundredfold, without ever asking for anything in return. It's time for the rest of you to step up, or make a commitment to do a little more.
Become a Master Gardner so we can sustain the beautification of our downtown and gateways, volunteer to help the Montezuma Boosters with 1-2 events this year (the annual Business Expo is coming up, July 4th is a daunting and task filled event), get involved with the Historic Society they NEED you, join forces with the Historic Preservation Committee to help protect, promote and bring new life to our local historical landmarks and monuments, help raise money for our community childcare center or future fitness facility, come to a city council meeting, call the Nursing Home to ask how you can volunteer or ask to assist with Meals on Wheels (they need help in February and March), serve on a subcommittee for downtown revitalization, housing committee, future zoning board of adjustment, utility board, library board, childcare board, etc.
Be Informed. Get Involved. Stay Connected.
And Don't Quit. Commit.
“If you always do what you’ve done, you’ll always get what you’ve
- Ben Boozer
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