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Tribune editorial: DL planning appears off to a good start

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City planning consultants Marty Shukert and Cory Scott don't shy away from controversy, and that's one of the things that makes their emerging vision for Detroit Lakes intriguing.

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Of course, it isn't just their vision: They have conducted surveys, held meetings and listened to public feedback on ideas for the redevelopment of Detroit Lakes.

Some of the ideas are what one might expect in a redevelopment plan -- lots of green space, a municipal liquor store as a retail anchor, two-story retail buildings with apartments to breathe life into the area after hour.

But there are some bold, even audacious ideas, too. Such as a proposed "town square" of green space which would require tearing down the former County Market building, now renovated and made into the kidney dialysis building for St. Mary's Regional Health Center.

The JCPenney parking lot would also be turned into green space. Alternate parking arrangements would be built into the plan.

To solve a parking shortage on the west side of the downtown area, a two-level parking ramp would be built along Front Street, between the Washington Square Mall and the Detroit Lakes Community Center. The ramp would provide 500-600 parking spaces.

Sitting along Front Street would be buildings for more stores, offices or apartments, masking the parking ramp from the street.

The consultants' plan for the redevelopment district is based on a crescent, with lots of green space.

The crescent would spread from Central Market west to behind businesses like Norby's Department Store.

A veterans' memorial park would be placed in the space between Highway 10 and the buildings and parking.

In the beach area, the plan would capitalize on the baseball grandstands, which would be improved to draw people down Washington Avenue.

A round-about would mark the spot where Washington Avenue meets West Lake Drive at the Pavilion, and the sailboat sculpture could be placed in the center of the roundabout.

A boardwalk along the lake could replace the narrow concrete sidewalk now in place.

One of the bigger changes to the West Lake Drive area could be a street running behind Lakeside and Zorbaz, connecting Washington Avenue to Legion Road.

The planning is still in the early stages, but it appears the city council chose the right consultants for the job. It will be fun to see what the final proposal looks like.

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