The relatively young Downtowners' Association is playing an important role in the much-discussed potential developments on Main Street in Williston.
The two-year-old group has a relatively simple goal, to help revitalize the downtown. The association is open to anyone who would like to join, you don't have to be a business owner, all you need is an interest in making Williston a better place.
"We feel that a downtown sets the tone, aesthetics and expectations of a town," said Angela Skogen, president of the Williston Downtowners' Association and owner of Cooks on Main. "Our unique atmosphere, whatever we chose to make of our downtown, helps set the quality of life for our future."
Angela Skogen, president of the Williston Downtowners’ Association and owner of Cooks on Main, is helping to lead a movement to revitalize Williston’s downtown area.
Key partners are currently in the middle of planning the various elements that will allow for a rejuvenated downtown. Skogen says the Williston Downtowners' Association's involvement, along with lead groups like the City of Williston and Williston Economic Development, has renewed her belief in what makes Williston so special.
"I truly believe that we are still the city of opportunity," said Skogen. "I grew up here, graduated from Williston High School in the '90s and moved back in 2010 because I want to be part of something fantastic. The upcoming facelift, with improvements to underground and above-ground infrastructure, like roads, water lines, sewer lines, sidewalks and buildings is exciting and needed."
Downtown planning progress mapped out
The ongoing plan for the direction of Main Street downtown is being spearheaded by a core group, and being guided by the City of Williston and consultants from RDG Planning and Design, and KLJ.
"Our downtown planning process is an all-inclusive effort designed to gather input from all downtown residents and truly create what the community wants to see our downtown look and feel like for years to come," said Rachel Ressler, staff planner with the City of Williston. "We're excited to have such great support from the Williston Downtowners' Association. Having their ideas, opinions and direction has been great throughout this on-going process."
While the Plan Downtown Williston project has been under way since early 2013, separate plans for streetscape and other key physical changes have been on the books for the last five years. Ressler says she hopes to have the final version of the downtown plan ready to present to the Williston City Commission for approval later this year.
Growing the Association
Skogen says despite being a relatively young group, the Williston Downtowners' Association is a team and as such, they are seeing more people starting to appreciate what they have to offer the community.
"We've come a long way, from just two or three business owners meeting a few years ago, to meetings where there as many as 20 businesses in attendance, that shows me that people really do care about the future of Williston's downtown," said Skogen.
As for joining the group, there is no cost to become a member, as the Downtowners' Association falls under the umbrella of the Williston Convention and Visitors' Bureau. The association's active members include longtime Williston retail business owners, new business owners, managers of corporate businesses who understand the importance of supporting the downtown atmosphere and other interested professionals who work downtown on a daily basis.
The group generally meets the fourth Friday of each month at 8 a.m. at Books on Broadway and is currently planning the remaining details for their third annual Holiday Stroll in December, which is an opportunity to support local businesses during the holiday season. The Downtowners' Association is also coming off its second year of promoting a Downtown Farmer's Market. The event has grown weekly and has been a great addition to downtown Williston's Saturday shopping experience.
For more information on the Williston Downtowners' Association contact Skogen at 572-2665 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions on the Plan Downtown Williston project, contact Ressler at 577-8107 or email@example.com.