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City council moves on downtown plans: Public plaza to be focus of future work
January 15, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

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The process to secure funding for Gering’s downtown revitalization plan took another step forward as the city council voted year to allow the new mayor to authorize and sign the grant funding request.
Council members also authorized the mayor to sign the environmental review record for the project.

Rawnda Pierce, executive director of Twin Cities Development, has been assisting the city with the project. “The biggest thing we still have to get through is get some specifications and bids for the downtown public plaza space,” she said. “We hope to have everything in place by spring where people can make an application to start work.”

The proposed public plaza space is the current parking lot just west of 10th Street between N and O Streets. Of the $350,000 overall grant, about $160,000 will be used for that public space.

“We’d like to have some sort of public gathering space there for year round use,” Pierce said. “In the winter, Santa’s Village could be located there and possibly a skating rink. In the summer it could be turned into space for a farmers’ market, a public art display or similar events.”

She added they don’t want to give up all the parking space in the block, but the best use would be determined by the proposals they receive to best use the space.

“The price tag is also important,” she said. “If the plaza costs more than $160,000, the state wants assurance the city is ready to commit to the added cost before they release the funding.”
The funding is in the form of a Community Development Block Grant through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.
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