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Monroe streetscape a 'case study' for state group
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MONROE - Members of Wisconsin Downtown Action Council were in Monroe Friday to see how the city is revitalizing its downtown.

WDAC is a statewide organization working to help Wisconsin downtowns become vibrant social and economic centers, through partnerships, networking and information sharing.

"So many communities try to suppress the impact of construction on the businesses, and you seem to have turned that around," WDAC Vice President Sarah Hoover said.

Rather than trying to keep people off the Square during construction, Monroe is tempting them to come downtown, said Dr. David Riese, chairman of the Monroe Main Street Board of Directors.

"We're thinking of putting in bleachers just so people can come and have a place to sit while they watch," said Pam Christopher, director of Monroe Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Ryan Wilson, Monroe, gave the group an overview of the process Monroe citizens went through to get to where they are today, tackling an entire reconstruction and redesign of their downtown Square.

Wilson serves on the boards of Monroe Main Street Board and Monroe's downtown Business Improvement District.

"You don't want the community downtown building your streets," he said. "Instead you want to create community planning events."

Because planning and designing a new streetscape is a long refining process, people must keep in mind why they are doing the work, he told WDAC members.

"Streetscape is just one of the tools," used to attract people to the downtown, he said.

Groundbreaking is planned for next week.

"We'll have Monroe as a case study on the Web to see how this is working out in practice," Hoover said.

Monroe will join 11 other Wisconsin communities featured so far on the organization's Web site,

"It's always exciting just to see other communities," Hoover added.