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Marquette looks to the future

POSTED: August 26, 2011 7:00 a.m.

Twenty-five people interested in Marquette’s future gathered at a public meeting Thursday evening, Aug. 18 at the Art Lounge in Marquette.
The meeting hosted by Rich Thibodeau and Catherine Bibb was led in part by Thibodeau, Marquette Chamber president Steve Piper and Marquette City Clerk Fred Peterson.
In opening Thibodeau thanked everyone for coming and also those who have helped Marquette grow over the years.
“We are thankful to those who have helped Marquette grow through the years, but now we need ideas to help Marquette’s future,” he said.
Piper said, “We aren’t necessarily looking for big ideas, small ideas will do. No idea is stupid and no idea is too far-fetched.”
Items listed for discussion were MES, downtown buildings, the Smoky Hill River, Marquette’s free land program, lodging, and a new Marquette Fire Department building.
It was reported that all buildings in the downtown area were being used except for the gallery one eleven building, which once housed the Marquette Medical Clinic.
Several good ideas came up about drawing businesses to town. One was the idea of an incubator business or space. This is a space or building where several businesses are housed. This idea can help new businesses grow. The consensus of the group was that the gallery one eleven building would be an excellent place for an incubator business or space.
Assets of Marquette were discussed with one main asset as the Kansas Motorcycle Museum and the museum complex.
“Most people don’t realize how many people come to Marquette because of the motorcycle museum,” said Piper. “The museum really draws people to town.”
Other assets include the Marquette Farmers State Bank as a strong support for the town, the grocery store, Marquette’s churches, organizations, the cafe, swimming pool, fitness center, free land, the river, appearance of the town, state registered historic downtown area, post office, and all the downtown businesses.
One major thing needed in Marquette and agreed upon by all those attending was the need for more housing, especially rental housing.
“We could rent more houses in Marquette if we had them,” said Scott Johnson, president of the Marquette Farmers State Bank. “If we had more rentals we could rent them to families. We’ve had families looking for houses to rent in town and we’ve had to turn them away. It would be great if people would invest in some of the properties around town for sale and turn them in to rental properties.”
Thibodeau brought up the idea of utilizing the upper portions of the downtown buildings. There was discussion on the idea with several good suggestions made by Thibodeau and others.
Most of those attending the meeting were around age 50 or above. They wanted to know what young families need in Marquette. What do they want to see in Marquette? How can the older residents get more young people involved in helping plan the direction of Marquette? What can Marquette businesses provide for younger families? What can organizations, businesses or churches provide for younger families?
One idea was to ask young students what they want to see in Marquette.
“I think maybe we should ask students what they would like to see in Marquette so they would stay in Marquette or come back to Marquette,” said Westridge Addition resident Ron Miller. “We need to have more programs for kids.”
Marquette Elementary principal Darryl Talbott said so far there were 91 students enrolled at MES.
“We have about eight more students enrolled than I had anticipated,” said Talbott.
All in all the meeting was very informative and the ideas were really flowing. Bringing industry to Marquette was on everyone’s mind, so if some of you readers out there have any ideas, call City Hall at 546-2205 and let Fred know about your idea or ideas.
Another public meeting will be planned in about a month or so. Watch the Tribune for more details and also the community sign in front of the Marquette City Museum.

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