by Adam Wiltgen
April 22, 2013
Photo at right by Franklin Hessler – Musician Steve Kaul making some new fans.
Sunny skies graced throngs of both tourists and locals taking in the activities at the Winona Park & Rec Dept.’s lively Earth Day Celebration at Levee Park this past Saturday. Although with an estimated 1,200 in attendance over the course of the afternoon, the sunshine and action also extended to nearby businesses. Mister Groovys, Dibs Cafe and the Computer Dock all reported above average sales and foot traffic that day.
The boom in business that some downtown merchants experienced Saturday during the Earth Day Celebration has sparked renewed enthusiasm amongst those businesses for Levee Park revitalization efforts.
Mike Bird, a cook at Dibs Cafe, said he sees the keystone of initial efforts as simply continuing to use park for community events. Mister Groovys owner John Shriver, who also operates another store in Decorah, IA, offered similar sentiments as well, mentioning that “the Decorah Downtown Betterment Association sponsors a well-attended outdoor music series downtown during warmer months that takes place every Thursday, a night when businesses stay already open later,” adding “it’s possible a regular event like that would help draw people to downtown in Winona.”
Thinking long term, Mr. Bird opined that drinking fountains might make the park more inviting during hot weather. Jason Dicus, owner of the Computer Dock, cited improved accessibility around the Union Pacific rail storage yard tracks that border the park to the south as one component of revitalization, saying “Whether its building a pedestrian bridge, relocating the tracks or creating additional walking paths for when trains are parked there, hopefully a solution is found.”