West Bend to Develop Downtown Master Plan

The city is moving forward on the creation of a master plan for downtown, as private sector members are working with the city to come up with both short-term and long-range plans for the area’s growth.

The Common Council on Monday received a presentation from the planning firm GRAEF on the company’s proposal for developing a master plan for downtown West Bend. Later, the council unanimously approved a resolution to contract with GRAEF for a 20-year downtown master plan and a short-term, one to three-year action plan.

"Here at GRAEF we focus on long-term, but paired with immediately actionable steps," said Craig Huebner, an urban planner and designer with GRAEF.

Huebner noted that West Bend has been working on a number of projects to improve the downtown, such as recent riverwalk improvements and the upcoming Main Street reconstruction, but there were other items to be addressed to continue improving it.

“These are all great projects, but how do we ensure there is a larger vision?” Huebner said.

Among other items, Huebner brought up planning to improve streets in the downtown area beyond Main Street, so the entire area would have attractive, unified streetscapes. His presentation noted that the entire downtown area should be addressed in planning, going beyond Main Street to the library and Tower Heritage Center to the south, Regner Park to the north, east to Indiana Avenue and west to Eighth Street.

As part of the 20-year master plan to address an overall vision for the entire area, the presentation marked methods of community engagement and identifying different possible funding mechanisms as parts of what the final plan will include.

The one- to three-year action plan will address more tangible items, including specific projects that could be undertaken in the next few years. That plan would provide attainable and coordinated goals that work together to improve the area, according to GRAEF materials.

Huebner said GRAEF was ready to begin, and the project timeline they had for developing the two plan documents was now through the end of the year.

March 22, 2023
Melanie Boyung, Reporter - Washington County Daily News