CLINTON — Debi Flanders, a consultant with the Iowa Downtown Resource Center at the Iowa Department of Economic Development, and Cary Anglum, director of the Cedar Falls Community Main Street Program, were visiting Clinton’s Lyons District on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The visit is part of an assessment being performed in the Lyons and downtown business districts to evaluate whether the areas are in need of revitalization.

According to the state, the objectives of the assessment are to identify some of the districts’ problems, opportunities and needs.

The assessors tour the commercial district and hold interviews with the general public and business owners to determine the district’s strengths and weaknesses.

“We’re just trying to get as much input from the different stakeholders in what happens in the district,” Flanders said.

Once the tour of the district is complete, the assessors make a verbal presentation of preliminary findings. After the on-site evaluation, the city later receives a detailed written report of the findings and recommendations for improvement. While a fee usually is charged for the evaluation, Clinton will receive an assessment for each district free of charge.

“Because we were chosen as one of Iowa’s Great Places, this was offered to us at no charge,” said Assessment Facilitator Brenda Thornton, who with her husband, Chuck, owns Homer’s Deli and Sweetheart Bakery on Main Avenue.

Flanders said the assessment is an awareness-building process that promotes education and empowerment.

“The focus is on the business district and how they can strategize the processes to revitalize it,” Flanders said. She added that the interviews provide an opportunity to hear what area residents want.

“We base our recommendations from what we hear in the community,” Flanders said.

“Sometimes it can validate what they already know or enforce what they want to accomplish,” Anglum said. “Sometimes the community can find out more about themselves, things they might not have known.”

“It’s about what can both districts do to make Clinton a better place,” Thornton said. “For our community to be a success, both business districts have to be successful.”

Flanders said many people who were interviewed during the Lyons assessment said the Mississippi River is both a challenge and an asset. While business people appreciate that the river attracts business and tourism, many said they believe it is being underutilized.

Thornton noted the city has miles of riverfront space available, but only approximately one mile of it is developed.

“We have this huge riverfront, we just don’t capitalize on all of it,” Thornton said. Flanders said many people commented on the potential of the area if more recreational areas with a river view were created.

The downtown district assessment will take place next month. Reports detailing findings and recommendations for improvement will be completed and submitted to city officials in the following six to eight weeks.

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