Festus and Crystal City explore ways to revitalize downtowns

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 10:30 PM CDT
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FESTUS (KMOV) - Ideas for how to refresh and revitalize the downtowns of Festus and Crystal City were on display Friday evening at a public open house held at First Baptist Church on Truman Boulevard.

The twin cities were awarded $500,000 by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments as part of the Great Streets Initiative. The program challenges communities to create attractive, interesting places that focus on improving connectivity and walkability.

Brian Wehners attended the open house to view the plans. He’s owned Wehners’ Awards on Main Street in Festus since 1980. He said he’d like to see wider sidewalks and more accessible parking and believes the revitalization plans have great potential for the twin cities.

“I think there’s more of a population down here that wants to do things with their money. There’s more money coming to Festus, there are more young people. There are people that want to go to restaurants, there are people that want to walk up and down Main Street. It’s there for the taking if we take advantage of it,” he said.

RDG Planning and Design of Omaha was selected to study the downtowns of Festus and Crystal City and then design ways to enhance them. Crystal City City Administrator Jason Eisenbeis said having the designs already in hand will make it easier to find the funding for the project, wherever that funding may come from.

“Instead of saying, ‘Oh, I wish we had a plan and then we could apply for this grant,’ now we have a plan. So, I really think it’s the first piece of getting that funding,” he said.

Mary Lovelace is a lifelong Festus resident and her family has had a business on Main Street in Festus since the 1930s.

“I like the back areas with the creek back there, the revised parking, the greenspaces. All of that is going to completely change the way we use Main Street and how we access it,” she said.

Greg Camp is the Festus City Administrator. He said the improvements will be an incredible community asset.

“You’re building quality of life for your residents and people who come visit,” he said.

The streets that are the focus of the plans are Main Street, Bailey Road and Mississippi Avenue. The final plan for revitalizing the downtowns will be completed by June 30.