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Comments sought for Gering’s downtown
February 22, 2012 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Doug Harris/Gering Citizen

A survey to help determine what Gering will look like in the future is now online and the public is encouraged to share their vision.

“The survey is a tremendous opportunity for residents to share what their vision is for the downtown area,” said Karla Niedan-Streeks, director of the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Everyone has a different idea, whether it be the type of stores, business hours or what new businesses they’d like to see.”

The survey, which takes less than 5 minutes to fill out, is now available on the Gering Citizen web site home page. The survey will run through March 8 and Niedan-Streeks said it’s very user friendly.

The deadline was chosen for a couple reasons. “It’s the day after Gering’s 125th anniversary kickoff celebration, Niedan-Streeks said. “We’re expecting 825 people at the Civic Center that night, and it’s a perfect time to remind them to fill out the survey if they haven’t already.”

Also, the Gering Downtown Redevelopment Committee must submit their initial grant application by the end of March. That grant would provide $30,000 for planning costs to bring in a consultant. That person will meet with downtown business owners and other groups to further develop the plan for Gering’s downtown future.

Once a more detailed plan is formulated, the committee will apply for a $350,000 implementation grant to help with the actual redevelopment.

Rick Willis, research and marketing coordinator for Twin Cities Development, said the grant will help in reversing a troubling trend. In just the past 10 years, Gering’s “pull factor number,” the number of dollars spent by the average downtown shopper, has dropped by half.

“With a community our size, I’d like to see a minimum of 500 Gering residents respond to the survey,” Niedan-Streeks said. “That might be a bit aggressive, but that’s my goal.”

Residents who aren’t online can take the survey at the Gering Public Library. Staff will be happy to help them in filling out the information. For residents who don’t want to fill out an online survey, it will be available in written form at the library.
“This survey, along with the recent tourism assessment profile done by the state, I think will help Gering figure out what it wants to be,” said Ken Mabery, superintendent of the Scotts Bluff National Monument. “One idea might be to put a stronger emphasis on the historic character of the downtown area. This could be a very exciting time for us. Even small improvements to downtown could make a big difference. We already have a historic downtown area. It would be easy to build on that and make it just zing.”

Niedan-Streeks said the results of the survey don’t have to be included in the initial grant application, only that they completed a survey. A results summary should be completed by mid-April.
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