DOVER — The capital city’s downtown area is suffering from vacant storefronts, high crime rates, confusing parking rules and aggressive panhandlers.
Those are just some of the reasons why the Downtown Dover Partnership and Mosaic Development Partners have kicked off the “Capital City 2030: Transforming Downtown Dover” survey.
The entities are seeking input about what residents want to see changed in downtown Dover and will come back with a solid revitalization plan.
The survey, which consists of 18 questions, can be found here.
“This is a community-driven plan, and we need the entire community engaged to provide input, ideas, concerns, so that we can address them in the creation of the plan,” said Diane Laird, DDP’s executive director.
“This community engagement is gathering ideas from the community, including residents, business owners, property owners, officials and agencies, anyone that has a touch to downtown and a familiarity with downtown.”
The questionnaire is just the first step in what will be an extensive look into changing the atmosphere along the Loockerman Street corridor.
Next, there will be a discover phase, where more data will be gathered about the 250-acre downtown district.
Then, the initiative will spend most of the summer working on strategies. It will wrap up its work and present a master plan in the fall.
“This is about the first third of the process — first quarter to a third — and our next step is to start looking at the physical space through plans and looking at connectivity, which means transportation,” Ms. Laird said. “It looks at opportunities that lie in downtown, and opportunities are also vacant spaces and DDP-owned spaces, city-owned spaces, and what kinds of uses might be best for those properties.
“Then, visioning — just kind of having some fun and visioning about what could be for downtown. Whether we have the parcels identified or not, what would we like to see?”
The survey was just launched over the past week and has already received more than 100 responses, she said.
For DDP, the more the better.
“We’d like to get as many responses as possible — I’d say hundreds and hundreds,” Ms. Laird said. “We have a team meeting with Mosaic every Thursday, and we’re going to be looking at (the submitted surveys) weekly. (Mosaic will) be looking at them more often to incorporate them in their work, as they prepare to show us (their vision).”
Ms. Laird added that a small group of Dover leaders will gather today at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to look at the geography of downtown, start considering those connectivity questions and maybe look for some revitalization possibilities that might have been missed.
“They will start talking with the Mosaic team while looking at a map of the downtown, just offering a conversation about possibilities,” she said.
Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen grew up strolling the downtown streets. He said he knows what the area once was and can be again, given the right plan.
“If we don’t have a healthy heart, the rest of the city is not going to thrive,” he said. “Downtown Dover continues in my heart to be the heart of the city.”