Wed Nov 14th Be Beloit


Be Beloit


November 14, 2018


By Terry Bailey



A crowd of over 100 local citizens were treated to a vision for the future of Beloit at the Porter House on Wednesday night, November 14th. Arrangements were made last summer for 15 students from a K-State Landscape Architecture class to visit Beloit and create plans for a new and improved Beloit. Their directions were “see what you can come up with” with no limitations. There were some restrictions but the idea was to dream and see what came to mind.


The underlying theme was to create landscape and architectural designs that would rejuvenate what was once a vital, active, downtown area. Previous to the end of World War II, the heart of America was the downtown area of small farming towns. Grocery stores, dry goods stores, hardware stores, barber shops, feed stores, and many other stores that offered the necessities of life for farm families were located in the downtown area. Farmers and their families came to town on Saturday night and completed all their purchases from local merchants.


Since the end of World War II the Great Plains has witnessed people fleeing from the countryside to the urban centers. With this flight there are fewer to support local merchants resulting in Main Streets full of empty storefronts. The task for 21st century America is to find ways to coax people back to the small country towns. Hence the combined efforts of the engineering students from K-State to create an attractive new face for downtown Mill Street.


The fifteen members of the class visited Beloit last summer and walked and drove the streets for an up close view of our town. The students spent a period of time at the Mitchell County Historical Museum with Kyle Peterson as he related the history of Beloit to them. They were divided into five groups of three. Five general topics were created: Storefront to Riverfront, Branding Beloit, A Greener Mill Street, Bridging Beloit, and Activate Beloit. Each group had general parameters for their specific project. For example, the group given the assignment of A Greener Mill Street were charged with finding ways to bring more green to the Mill Street area. Currently there are few trees or planters or benches on Mill Street. This group created numerous creative ways to make Mill Street a more inviting and relaxing area. Each three-member group created attractive displays utilizing photographs, hand-drawn graphics, and text to describe their vision for their assigned topic.


This production was a combined effort of Heather Hartman, Solomon Valley Economic Director, Julia Rabe, Beloit Chamber of Commerce director, and Jason Rabe, Beloit City Manager. The next step in the process is for citizens to view the student projects and provide input. Some of this was done Wednesday night. Plans are being made to have the project displays available for viewing so that citizens can offer their input.


While the engineering students were not tied to budgetary constraints, future actions by the City will proceed with an eye on the cost of any of these improvements. The thoughtful and creative work of the students will be topics of discussion by the City Council for quite some time to come.

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