Downtown sidewalks receive face-lift

Several benches like this one dedicated to Burton P. “Pete” Allen dot the sidewalks of downtown Milaca. Flower pots such as this one purchased by First National Bank are also beautifying the area.

Downtown Milaca scenery has caused a little more rubber-necking than usual the past few weeks. That’s because new sleek benches and flower pots are beautifying business fronts and sidewalks.

The Milaca downtown task force, created out of the Healthy Communities Partnership program, has been looking at ways to make downtown more inviting, according to city council member Dave Dillon.

“We started with some large scale ideas — pedestrian friendly lighting, curb bump outs, and trees — but those are not affordable to do at this time,” Dillon said. “So we looked at starting a little smaller to build momentum for the project.”

Task force members tapped  into the services of University of Minnesota graduate Zack Jorgensen, who created some drawings of downtown decked out with benches, flowers, trees and other landscaping. The images were used as a visual incentive for downtown business owners as the council looked for sponsors.

Individuals and area businesses purchased the benches and many chose to memorialize someone special from the community, which is indicated on the plaques.

“No city funds were used to buy them,” Dillon said.

The purpose of the benches is to not only spruce up the place, but to give pedestrians a chance to sit down and enjoy the new look.

“It gives people a place to relax and enjoy our downtown,” Dillon said. “The area was a little ‘hard’ with little green space. Now with the flowers, trees, grass and plantings coming soon on the southwest corner of Teal’s lot, it softens up the area and makes it more inviting”

For the full story, see the Thursday, Aug. 9 print edition of the Times.