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Grandview Chamber to spearhead downtown revitalization project

GRANDVIEW - Picking up the ball and running with an idea. That is what Grandview Mayor Mike Bren is hoping the local chamber of commerce will do with his suggestion.

Bren was on hand at Tuesday's meeting of the Grandview Chamber of Commerce to offer members the lead role in beautifying Grandview's downtown area, which has been an area of much discussion lately.

"There is nothing to attract any of us to go to downtown Grandview," said Bren, who runs a business in the downtown sector.

Bren told chamber members there has been a lot of economic positives going on outside of downtown Grandview, such as the newly opened Wal-Mart distribution center. The Grandview mayor, though, added no major business has ventured into downtown.

In hopes of turning the misfortunes of the downtown area around, Bren offered a partnership of sorts to the Grandview chamber.

Bren said the city obtained $15,000 from the Lower Yakima Valley Rural Enterprise Community (REC), that has been earmarked for Grandview's downtown area. Bren suggested the chamber take that money and utilize it to find ways of improving the downtown area. Bren also said the city would work with the chamber on finding additional money for downtown improvements.

"The chamber, we feel, kind of needs to run with this," said Bren. "We are committed as a Council to find money to clean-up the downtown. It is horrible. I think it is a chance for us to improve the downtown area."

With the $15,000, Bren suggested the chamber use $3,000 of that to map out a plan and budget to go towards downtown revitalization. Bren said the planning portion would basically outline the objectives of the program and put in place a time line for achieving those goals. With another $8,000, the Grandview mayor suggested hiring a staff member to conduct a neighborhood outreach program to help with the implementation of the downtown revitalization plan. The remaining $4,000 would be used for implementation of the program.

Bren said all money the city obtained from the REC has to be used by Oct. 1.

"The downtown is not like it used to be," he said.

Bren said that is something he hears quite often from residents. Bren pointed out the changes in the downtown area, which at different points in Grandview's history was thriving, can be traced back to its residents.

"The downtown is not like that today because we got in our cars and drove to Yakima and the Tri-Cities," said Bren.

Grandview Chamber of Commerce President Jim Herriman asked members to volunteer for the task of working with the city to improve downtown Grandview.

"Ask yourself what you can do for this community to make it better. To make it shine," stated Herriman. "It is a very easy task (to do) for many people."

During a special meeting the chamber board held following the regular gathering, Bren talked more about what needs to be done to improve downtown Grandview.

"It just needs to be a pleasant place to go," said Bren. "We want to make it inviting."

Chamber board member Mike Bradshaw asked what kind of ordinances the city has in regards to beautification. Bren said he didn't want to see any more city ordinances implemented, but rather felt it would work out better if the downtown business owners and residents bought in to the idea of making positive changes.

Chamber member Dottie Cervantes suggested holding public forums to receive the input of business owners. Cervantes wanted to have translation services available in hopes of getting Hispanic business owners involved.

The chamber voted to take the lead role, utilizing the REC money, to tackle the issue of downtown revitalization in Grandview. The chamber formed a committee to move forward with the project.

"We are going to have to do this piece by piece," said Herriman.

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