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State releases plaza funds
June 17, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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The Nebraska Department of Economic Development released $350,000 in Community Development Block Grants for the City of Gering to continue development of the downtown area.

The department had earlier approved phase one funding for Gering to conduct a study of business owners, residents, and other stakeholders to see what projects would be feasible in the downtown area. The resulting proposal was sent to the department, but it took more than a year to complete the process to release the funds.

The department funding will help downtown businesses with the expense of refurbishing the facades on their buildings. The remainder of the funds will be used for construction of a downtown plaza. The civic plaza will be located behind Valley Bank and Trust between N and O streets. The plaza will connect to 10th Street with the existing walkway between Valley Bank and Plummer Insurance.

The department did not change the contract start date, which is February 15, 2016, so the two-year contract will end in February 2018 for use of the implementation funds.

“We’re excited about being able to continue the project and get it completed,” said Gering Mayor Tony Kaufman. “The first step will be for the city to meet with the Downtown Revitalization Committee to get back on track. We plan to take applications for businesses who want to make site improvements. That will probably be done first.”

Work should also begin this season on the downtown plaza in conjunction with the City of Gering. Planned for inclusion are a water feature, a concert stage for live performances, and awnings for a farmers’ market. “The plaza will be a great addition to our downtown area,” Mayor Kaufman said. “We look forward to working with our partners in making these investments for the betterment of our community.”

Downtown Revitalization Committee member Karla Niedan-Streeks said the group hasn’t met since the state released the funding.
However, they well get together soon with city officials to determine how the plan will be implemented. However, she said progress will begin this season on new facades for downtown businesses and the first phases of building the downtown plaza.
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