Nearly ten years after it’s formation, Prairie du Chien Downtown Revitalization Incorporated (PDRI) is no more. It’s board of directors voted Thursday, nearly unanimously, to dissolve the organization. Ken Wall was the only board member to vote against it.
The decision comes after recent years of declining financial support for the organization.
One concern was that with reduced financial support, the majority of that money was consumed by overhead. In addition to money spent on rent for their office at the Knowlton House, the Wisconsin Main Street Association requires a full-time Executive Director for each community’s downtown origination. Basic organization costs are an estimated $50,000 per year. “It got to a point where it was really hard to sustain,” said board member and longtime volunteer Kathleen Hein.
Maintaining continuity within the organization was also difficult. Despite a dedicated board of directors, the organization employed five different Executive Directors during it’s ten year operation.
Now dissolved, PDRI’s remaining assets now belong to the city of Prairie du Chien. City Administrator Aaron Kramer says the city will take over a few of the responsibilities, from facilitating the downtown revolving loan fund to watering flowers, previously handled by the downtown group. He says they’ve also put some money into this year’s city budget for a small, part-time position that would help coordinate downtown planning.
“Economic development is not just going out and getting that shiny widget factory,” said Kramer. ”You’ve got people that are going to work their eight hours, what are they going to do [with the rest of their time]? That’s why you need things like a vibrant downtown.”
Despite the end of PDRI, there’s still people interested in continuing to carry on it’s vision. A meeting is planned for Monday afternoon to discuss options going forward for downtown businesses can continue to plan and collaborate together without an official “Main Street” organization helping to facilitate it.
PDRI came into existence in 2004 when the community realized the need for a program to liven up the downtown district. One of it’s biggest accomplishment was overseeing a streetscape project that helped to improve the overall look of downtown Prairie du Chien.