The City of Cassville got a visit from the Missouri DREAM team last Wednesday. The meeting between community leaders and representatives from three different state agencies marked the start of the DREAM (Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri) Initiative grant process for the city.
The all-day visit provided those who will be assisting Cassville with the DREAM Initiative process an opportunity to tour the city and the downtown area as well as gain feedback and input from people in the community about their vision for Cassville's future.
The meeting opened with a welcome from Mayor Tracy Holle.
"This is an exciting time for Cassville," said Holle. "There is a lot of momentum going on in town. A lot of spirit.
"We are very blessed with business leaders in the past who saw how we needed to sustain our town and make it grow, and now we've come to a time where we're ready to move forward. It's our time," said Holle.
The mayor then provided the DREAM team with an overview of Cassville's history that was prepared by local historian Ted Roller.
Additional presentations were made by Lynette Dilbeck, the city's economic development director, and Carolyn Bishop, president of the Cassville Downtown Partnership (CDP).
"The CDP is here to give people a good reason to get involved," said Bishop. "The support of this group will only continue to grow."
Bishop said the newly established organization represents a diverse group of community leaders, including downtown business owners, members of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), senior citizens, club leaders, city council members, chamber members, local churches and representatives from Roaring River State Park.
"We are constantly evaluating what concrete plans can be put into place to keep activity circulating among the core downtown streets," explained Bishop. "We are listening to community members and then taking action. We are giving people a reason to become involved and take ownership in our revitalization project.
"Our energy, our enthusiasm, our passion about where we live, it's all there," added Bishop.
The city presentations were followed by a tour of downtown Cassville and a catered lunch at Cassville City Hall. In the afternoon, community members were educated about the number of ways the DREAM Initiative could positively affect the community.
DREAM officials spoke of helping Cassville secure sustainable sources of funding to implement the downtown revitalization plan and also talked about conducting land use surveys and retail market analysis that will help Cassville determine what type of new businesses to recruit to the downtown area. Creating building and streetscape design guidelines for downtown as well as devising a marketing plan to bring people to Cassville were two other areas of expertise the DREAM Initiative offers its communities.
"There's an eagerness here to do something for our town," said City Administrator Eugene Dilbeck at the end of the afternoon. "It's important that you guide us to a point, where through a community process, we can come to a consensus about how the downtown revitalization process is going to evolve."
DREAM team members who spent the day in Cassville were: Andrew L. Struckhoff, senior project manager with PGAV Planners, out of St. Louis; Michael Hurlbert, assistant project manager with PGAV Planners; Kim Martin with the Missouri Development Finance Board; Ann Perry and Brenda Horstman with the Missouri Department of Economic Development; and Katie Witt with the Missouri Housing Development Commission.
DREAM is an initiative that provides select communities access to technical and financial assistance necessary to accomplish their downtown revitalization plans. The state contracts with PGAV Planners to provide DREAM communities with the technical expertise to create a detailed plan and analysis for successful downtown revitalization efforts.
Community leaders who attended the DREAM meeting last Wednesday included: Bob Allen, Mindi Artherton, Dennis Baker, Carolyn Bishop, Michelle Bredeson, Caleb Buntin, Chloe Epperly, Lynette and Eugene Dilbeck, Tracy Holle, Landon Fletcher, Terry Heinz, Donna Hayes, Carolyn Hunter, Phil Hutchens, Virgil Harrington, Mike McCracken, Lisa Schlichtman, Louis Metz, Rachael Selby, Mark Smith, Randy Stockton and Cherry Warren.
Struckhoff said PGAV would pull together the notes from the group's visit to Cassville and begin work on outlining a scope of services that would be ready for review by mid-November. The final contract would include a dollar amount that usually ranges from $40,000 to $45,000 a year for three years. The city is required to supply a 20 percent match, which will amount to around $12,000 to $15,000 a year.
"DREAM is really a planning initiative," said Horstman. "To get all of this planning at 20 percent of the cost is huge."