New Richmond's downtown area study kicked off with a community cook-out and input-gathering session Aug. 29.

According to Dan Koski, project manager and city engineer and street superintendent, about 68 people attended the event held at Glover Park.

"We were really happy with the turnout and the comments that we collected," he said.

There were a number of events occurring that same evening, such as school open houses, so Koski said he wasn't sure how many people would turn out for the two-hour event.

"We were a little worried, but it turned out well," he said.

Apart from enjoying a free meal, those in attendance mingled among five stations where community input was being gathered.

After registering at one table, those participating went to stations gathering comments and suggestions on topics that included transportation, economic development and business, WeTEC building and land/zoning issues.

Participants were asked to answer a few questions at each station, such as "What types of businesses do you feel are missing in our downtown area," "Do you think the City of New Richmond should retain ownership of the WeTEC building," "Do you feel there's enough parking downtown," and "Have you noticed features in other communities that you would like you see included in downtown New Richmond?"

Koski said a lot of the early input has centered around the walk-ability of the downtown district. Other issues brought up included the heavy traffic along Knowles Avenue and the WeTEC building's future.

"And a big goal of many was to make the downtown more of a destination," he said.

The responses to all the questions will soon be compiled into a report, according to Koski, and the suggestions will be considered as the eventual long-range plan for the city's downtown is developed.

Koski said two additional listening sessions are being planned to gather more input from the public. One session will be held in October and another in November.

Those unable to attending any of the listening sessions will have an opportunity to have their voices heard. Koski said web-based surveys and paper surveys will be available for completion in the coming weeks.

Once all the input sessions and surveys are completed, the city staff will create a final report. A public hearing will be scheduled in December to identify any final tweaks needed in the plan.

The study will then be forwarded to the city council for final approval. After that, the plan will move into its implementation stage.

The goal of the study is to formulate a plan that will help revitalize downtown district and address any issues that people are aware of.

Anyone wishing more information can contact Koski at 715-246-4268 or