Webster City needs a team

It’s pretty clear that the salvation of our historic downtown lies in the hands of more than one solution.

It’s also clear that Webster City is not alone in this conundrum. One only needs to look at the City of Pomeroy and its desire to raze buildings, one of which houses the iconic Byron’s, a musical venue that defies logic by drawing a diverse crowd to that little remote Calhoun County town.

Here in Webster City, as we reckon with aging early 19th century structures that may or may not have been properly maintained, we must find a way to work together to save what can be saved, and we need to find it now.

Not every property owner has the means to restore a historic property.

It is clear that, even if they do, it is a daunting and expensive task. As proof, we can look at LIFT WC’s extensive work and fundraising that is slowly bringing the Elks Building back to new glory. Or we can watch the work HERO is doing – again – to save the Webster Theater.

These are not individuals bringing these buildings back to life. These are teams.

Webster City needs a team.

We need a hub of resources to help property owners save what is left of our valuable historic downtown – including, and beyond, the three main blocks of Second Street.

Yes, we have SSMID – our Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District.

We have the Webster City Area Chamber of Commerce.

We have the City of Webster City.

We also have the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors in our corner. The Supervisors have proven their value most recently with financial support for work at Wilson Brewer Historic Park and the upcoming East Twin Park splash pad.

But there are gaps in the network.

Heck, is there a network?

I mean, yes, these groups informally work together, but do they need to formally work together? Do we need a figurative structure that fills the holes through which urgent need can slip?


Here’s a cold dash of reality: We won’t save every historic building.

We already know that.

When we lose a key structure, we need to focus on the quality of the infill that will replace it. Yes, we have planning and zoning that can filter a project for qualifications.

But we also need a means of guiding the aesthetics of what is newly built downtown.

The reason for this is continuity and vision.

While honoring our past, we must also focus on this community’s future.

And we need to do it as a team.

Jane Curtis is interim editor of the Daily Freeman-Journal.


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