Friday, August 9, 2013

Town Square

This blogpost will probably contain no surprises, if you've read this blog over the course of the past few years. Maybe you haven't though, so SURPRISE! The powerball was big again, and of course I get all existential (we didn't even buy a ticket, people calm down). Though I don't really need the powerball to dream big dreams.
Since June's blogpost, I've been obsessing thinking about ways to best love our new city. I think on a very small scale, we can try to shop as locally as we can. Probably another post coming on that. On a larger scale, I still don't think we've lived here long enough to truly know what the city needs (first glance says the downtown area needs some businesses to come fill the empty buildings...but what kind of businesses would draw regular customers? I don't know yet). I do know that at the new Farmers Market in town, in the call for new vendors, they included handmade items in the list of things people could sell. And I thought, maybe if I get my act together and make a bunch of soap, I could sell some at the Farmers Market next summer (don't have much made...and even if I did make some this evening, summer would be over by the time the soap was ready to sell).
All this thinking about selling soap at a Farmers Market got me to thinking about selling soap at a Christmas Market (SURPRISE!).
And then I thought, LONG PRAIRIE NEEDS A TOWN SQUARE. Now, again, we have lived here for just under two months. I have no idea if Long Prairie really would utilize a Town Square or not. But since this is my blog, and the powerball was big, I'm going to pretend like I have the funds to back this up and dream a little. Indulge with me.
Last week while I was thinking about all this Town Square stuff (SURPRISE! before the powerball), the Long Prairie account on facebook asked us faithful followers what kind of businesses we'd like to see in town. Well thank you for asking, Long Prairie Facebook account. I have been thinking about this very thing. I waited a bit to answer, of course. 1. I wanted to gather my thoughts, and 2. I didn't know what kind of answers people were going to give. I had just moved here, I shouldn't be the first one to post (especially if I wasn't even thinking in the same book as people, much less the same page). Also 3, I have zero nostalgia for Long Prairie, so it wasn't like I could say, "I wish it was how it used to be." No idea how it used to be.
Anyway, here is part of how I answered:
If money were no object, it would be great to restructure downtown to have a town square, with businesses/restaurants surrounding. In the spring/summer/fall, concerts and farmers market could be held there (or craft fairs...large gatherings, etc) and restaurants could do outdoor seating. In winter, we could have a Christmas Market....and maybe a skating rink in the town square.
Businesses... A larger bakery, art studio, craft supply store, and more restaurants...maybe a cute little deli.  (of course [the new coffeeshop] would have to move to the square!)

Doesn't it sound AMAZING?!?!!?!
And of course all week I've been thinking (even dreaming while I'm sleeping) about the new Town Square. And how great downtown would be if we could just walk there and get everything we need (or, when we move out of town, to drive to downtown, park, and then walk everywhere to get whatever we need). Who needs a supermega-walmart-esque one-stop-shop, when you have a Town Square surrounded by all the businesses you need? I still don't know what businesses exactly, but a small, locally owned grocery store/deli would be nice. And the coffee shop, of course. An outdoor mall, if you will (and I think you will).
My first thought was to have it in the middle of Main Street, but after some thought, we thought maybe it would be better if the Town Square were right across the street from the ever-majestic-on-the-hill courthouse (of course, maybe that street would have to be moved. maybe). We'd have to tear the old armory down (from what I can tell, it looks abandoned anyway), and then build businesses around it (or, just turn the businesses on main street around...if we want to have a really big square/rectangle).
And then of course, we'd have our Christmas Market. And it would be a wonderful utopian society where everyone shopped locally and walked everywhere and lived happily ever after.
Dear Lotto Winner from Minnesota,
Would you be willing to fund this project (if of course this is what Long Prairie needs...I know it's what I want), and help invest ($$) into some new businesses to be named?

The city block where the Town Square will go. You can see the Courthouse in the background (left).

Goodbye Armory. Hello Town Square! This is looking out from in front of the courthouse.
OK. If you just got to this blog and only read the captions under the pictures, please note that I am dreaming, and not actually making things happen. Unless you are the Lotto winner. Or the Mayor. OR some other rich benefactor with an interest in small town development.

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