By now you’ve probably heard about Beaverdale’s Streetscape project, but do you know why/how Streetscape originally started? And, how is the BNA supporting the Streetscape efforts? Read on to learn more . . .
Streetscape is the brainchild of a small group of individuals associated with the Beaverdale Main Street Iowa Initiative (“BMSI”). BMSI was the predecessor to the organization known today as the Beaverdale Betterment Coalition (“BBC”). BBC is a non-profit organization that provides support for Beaverdale businesses and commercial property owners and focuses on ways to improve the neighborhood. In a way, you can think of the BBC as the BNA’s equivalent for local businesses. The BNA tends to focus on residential issues, while the BBC tends to focus on business issues, but both organizations are committed to making Beaverdale a better place to live, work, grow and play.
Several years ago (even before the most recent recession) Beaverdale’s business district was in transition, and many storefronts sat empty. Local business leaders and concerned citizens joined together to determine how best to counteract this trend. It was decided that a makeover of Beaverdale’s business district was one way to make the commercial corridor more palatable for new businesses and sustainable for existing businesses. BMSI established sub-committees specifically charged with focusing on a Streetscape design and fundraising program.
What is the BNA’s role?
A few years ago, some of the key people working on Streetscape were no longer able to dedicate time to the effort; so, the BBC approached the BNA for help. The BNA Board took a vote and decided to formally support the Streetscape project. Since then, the BNA has been an active partner with the BBC on Streetscape, and we’ve provided support in a number of ways, including:
A) Committing leadership resources to fundraising efforts. BNA Board Member, Sheila Navis, Co-Chairs the Streetscape Fundraising Committee, along with BBC President, Lexi Wornson. Three other BNA leaders are also active participants on this committee.
B) Working as a liaison with City leadership/staff to navigate the legal and political hurdles necessary to move the project to the finish line.
C) Serving as a communication conduit for the project with local residents and businesses. The BNA has hosted multiple public meetings and has donated free publication space in the Sidewalk newsletter to help keep the community informed of the project’s status.
D) Providing significant financial support. To date, the BNA and its sub-committees have donated over $5,500 in cash, plus pro bono Sidewalk space to the Streetscape project.
E) Adopting the proposed Streetscape efforts into its recently updated Strategic Plan. Streetscape is just one aspect of a broader BNA goal to promote a vibrant, sustainable business district within Beaverdale.
With all of these forms of support, it’s easy to assume that the Streetscape project is the BNA’s project; however, that’s not the case. Rather, Streetscape is a public/private project partnership between the BBC, the BNA, and the City of Des Moines. Polk County and the State of IA will also be major contributors to the project. It must have full support from all of these stakeholders and you—the community—in order to be successful. Streetscape has been in the works for over five years, during which time it has definitely seen its share of challenges. But, the good news is that project is now on-track to become a reality in 2014, provided that the community raises another $131,000 to help fund construction. ($169,000 of our $300,000 community commitment has already been raised.)
How can you help?
If you would like to make a financial pledge to the Streetscape effort, or buy a brick to be used in the project’s construction, you may do so by clicking on the “Donate” option on the following website: www.genus-la.com/beaverdale.htm. All donations are tax-deductible and will be applied towards the project’s construction. For questions or comments, please send an e-mail to: email@example.com.
Thanks to all in the community who have contributed in some way to this project, whether it be time, money, or actively voicing your support. Together, we can make Streetscape a reality. Let’s all keep Believing in Beaverdale!
By Sasha Kamper