OUR VIEW: Long-term goals are needed for downtownWe challenge Mitchell Main Street & Beyond to do even more, and we challenge the community to further support the organization’s work.
Mitchell Main Street & Beyond celebrated its fifth year of existence Monday evening as part of the organization’s annual meeting.
That longevity is a victory. Groups organized around a community cause sometimes achieve fleeting success at best, and we’ve seen past Main Street-themed groups in Mitchell flare up and die out over the years.
So, we congratulate MMS&B on its staying power, and for establishing a firm and recognizable presence in the community. We also applaud the various programs and promotions implemented by the group to help downtown businesses thrive.
We also challenge MMS&B to do even more, and we challenge the community to further support the organization’s work.
It’s clear that there are some bright spots up and down Mitchell’s Main Street. Various enterprising businesspeople have carved out a niche for themselves with thriving retail stores, coffeehouses and other establishments.
It’s also clear that a lot of work remains to be done. The upper floors of many historic downtown buildings remain empty and rotting. The city’s oldest building — the former Longhorn Bar at the south end of Main — is surrounded by blockades because of its precarious structural condition.
And, compared to some other cities in South Dakota that have undertaken streetscape projects, there is little about Mitchell’s downtown to invite pedestrian traffic.
We believe firmly that a vibrant downtown is a fundamental aspect of a successful community. Mitchell has done a fantastic job developing its outer edges in modern times, especially the Interstate 90 corridor. Amid all those exciting new projects, the downtown core has been somewhat forgotten.
Perhaps MMS&B, by its continued existence and advocacy, is beginning to raise awareness about the need to improve and support the downtown district. That’s good, but major, far-reaching ideas and efforts are needed to confront the ongoing problems posed by aging, partially empty buildings. In many cases, the unique problems faced by downtown property owners are more than they can handle on their own.
A building-improvement loan program and other measures are in place to help downtown property owners, but more comprehensive and long-term ideas to address downtown’s challenges are needed. We hope MMS&B will lead the charge.