Courthouse, 10th and M considered 'anchor points' for Gering's D - Scottsbluff Area News, Sports, and Weather

Courthouse, 10th and M considered 'anchor points' for Gering's Downtown Revitalization

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The city of Gering is unique in that hundreds of thousands of travelers pass through the city to get to the Scotts Bluff National Monument every year.

The city wants to capitalize on the potential revenue and crowds that the Monument draws in, and hired an independent company to conduct a Downtown Revitalization study.

"One of the things we were asked to do as a part of the study is to figure out how to really leverage the monument traffic, to draw people in to your downtown," said Andrew Dane, project manager for engineering and architectural company Short Elliot Hendrickson.

Dane presented Short Elliot Hendrickson's plan to the Gering City Council Monday night.

The revitalization will be focused on developing the downtown area of Gering from the rail road tracks on U Street south, to the entrance of town. 

Dane suggested that Gering capitalize on two key focal areas in town: the intersection of 10th and M Street, and the lawn in front of the Scotts Bluff County court house.

"You do have a sign there now," Dane said, referring to the corner of 10th and M Street. "But something more vibrant, more colorful, maybe bigger that kind of alerts travelers that are coming through here that they are going through a historic downtown area."

Dane says a new sign at the entrance of town will be a relatively inexpensive way to capture people and draw them in.

The courthouse, he suggested, should be developed into more of a "pedestrian-friendly environment," by adding more outdoor seating and dining areas, a sculpture, and possibly a splash pad in the area to entice people to gather there.

"So it becomes a way to sort of get more people out on the street, and you get more people out there looking around, then other people want to stop and see what's going on, so we see this area as a nice anchor point to the northern half of downtown."

The concept Dane introduced for the courthouse with outdoor seating, splash pads, and sculptures is coined as a "pocket park," something he recommends be implemented in several spots along 10th Street.

"Developing pocket parks to improve the ability of your downtown to sort of hold people for longer when they do visit the area."

Dane also suggested bringing in more retail stores as well as eateries, such as delis, full-restaurants and possibly even a gastro-brewery will also help to bring more people into Gering.

Dane emphasized the study Short Elliot Hendrickson conducted did not include a feasibility study for a hotel, (which is in the planning stages for Gering) nor did his company do a traffic impact study, but he had suggestions for both.

"We're recommending you take a look at the road guide concept, which is going from four lanes down to three," Dane said. "So you have one lane in each direction and a turn lane down the middle."

As for the hotel, Dane said his representatives recommended it be placed next to the Civic Center between M and N street, with the entrance facing 10th Street to create the greatest visibility for tourists coming into town.

The city of Gering will use Short Elliot Hendrickson's study to develop an action plan for the Downtown Revitalization project, and will then apply for grants to assist with the implementation. 

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