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Gering Plaza still in works
July 07, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis
As Gering remembers its past during Oregon Trail Days, it also has an eye to the future for developing the downtown area for future generations to enjoy.

Recently, the Nebraska State Department of Economic Development awarded a $350,000 grant to Gering’s Downtown Revitalization Committee. That will help downtown business owners make their buildings more energy efficient and also update their facades. Also included in the grant funding is money to make buildings more handicap accessible.

Another piece of the development puzzle is to build a downtown plaza on 11th Street between N and O streets, connecting to the existing walkway between Western States Bank and Plummer Insurance along 10th Street.

The Downtown Revitalization Committee has been working on the project for a few years. Some of the features envisioned for the downtown plaza include a water feature, a concert stage for live performances, plus an area with awnings for a farmers’ market. In general, the city plans to create a public meeting space just a half-block from downtown that can be used to host all variety of live events and celebrations.

Some examples that have been suggested include art and craft shows, performing artist shows, maybe even a new area for the annual Santa’s Village in December.

When the committee meets, members are sure to have other ideas and will come up with a plan to get the project rolling along. Under terms of the state grant, the city had two years to complete the project.

“We’re excited about being able to continue the project and get it completed,” said Gering Mayor Tony Kaufman when the funding was announced. “The first step will be for the city to meet with the Downtown Revitalization Committee to get back on track.”

Kaufman added the plaza will be a great addition to the downtown area. “We look forward to working with our partners in making these investments for the betterment of our community.”

While nothing is set in stone just yet, the City of Gering and the Downtown Revitalization Committee, made up of concerned residents and business owners, will soon spearhead a major downtown facelift. So when the 96th annual Oregon Trail Days rolls around in 2017, the downtown area could look a lot different.
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