Main Street project requires planning, cooperation

By: 
Chuck Kajer, The New Prague Times

The New Prague City Council is all set to give final approval to the Main Street 2020 Improvement project that has been in the works for several years. A hearing on Monday, Dec. 3, drew about 22 people - mostly property owners and business owners who are understandably concerned with the effects this project will have on their investments.

The city, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and project engineers have spent many hours in developing the plans and designing the project. A stakeholder committee was formed to make sure interested parties had a chance to be part of the process, and there were several public meetings and opportunities for people to have their views heard.

The council tabled final approval of the project at Monday’s meeting and will take the time to review the concerns shared at the meeting. It is important for all of these concerns to be addressed. Not all of the requests for changes can be granted, but they must at least be looked at and alternatives considered. New Prague has a strong, vibrant Main Street that must be protected. Businesses in the downtown area need to be given every opportunity to succeed.

But these same businesses also need to do their share of planning for the disruption that will be coming. The last time there was a major reconstruction projection, the 1990 Streetscape project, business owners were well-prepared, with back door entrances improved and promotions held to keep traffic flowing in and out of shops and offices. With cooperation with the local Chamber and communication between the city, MnDOT and businesses, most of the shopkeepers were able to weather the storm, which closed off Main Street from late June to September. With the same kind of planning and cooperation, local businesses can do the same in 2020.

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