Business owners and others concerned about the future of downtown met Tuesday morning at the Spring Valley Public Library with Teresa McCormack and Tom Erickson of The Urban Studio for another meeting on improving downtown.

McCormack and Erickson had prepared a general guide on design policies for Spring Valley development that was reviewed by those in attendance. The document showed what can be done with buildings and the surrounding sidewalks, streets and alleys to make downtown more vibrant, cleaner and more cohesive, noted Erickson. The meeting is part of a series that are coordinated by the Economic Development Authority and economic development director Cathy Enerson, who has secured funding for the project.

At the start of the meeting Erickson told the dozen or more people that the priorities as stated at previous meetings are to "get back to the historical qualities of downtown" while also taking steps to "bring vibrancy to Broadway." Other goals are to improve energy efficiency through better insulation and windows.

The guide distributed to business owners stated that a healthy downtown "provides a central place to shop, eat and spend time with family and friends." It also "creates a presence, core customer base and fosters a sense of community."

Erickson and McCormack emphasized that there are steps to make the outside an inviting place, using the sidewalks and other areas. For example, cafes could offer outdoor seating, benches could be placed in areas so walkers can sit and rest and bicycle racks can be installed to welcome families for an outing.

"They are more likely to enjoy downtown for longer," said McCormack.

There was concern if the sidewalks have enough space to accommodate the ideas. Although a change in the layout of the street was suggested, Enerson cautioned that the plans should have minimal changes to the infrastructure due to costs.

McCormack shared an idea that utilizes space on a temporary basis by creating temporary parks in front of businesses. After getting permission from the city, the businesses could close off a few parking spaces in front of their building and set up a pocket park for a short period of time, such as a week.

The businesses could roll out an artificial turf or wooden platform. However, even simpler, business could use the existing surface and create a space using plantings and picnic tables or lights to define the area.

Attention also turned to the backs of the downtown buildings and trying to tie into Spring Creek Park, where many activities, including Music in the Park, take place. It was noted that Johnny Ringo's has done a good job making its space in the back more welcoming.

The key to the project is approval of a Small Cities Development Grant that would provide low interest loans, that could turn into grants, for downtown businesses. The city will receive notice if it receives the grant in June.

At the end of the meeting, the group reviewed the map of building owners and occupants to update the information.

Meetings will continue and The Urban Studio is available to help individual businesses with designs or plans.