OWATONNA — “You know how when you do a fall or spring cleaning in your home and everything is fresh and clean and you just feel good?” asked Shirley Schultz. “The same thing happens in a downtown.”
In preparation for the first predicted snowstorm of the season this weekend, Owatonna’s downtown will be getting one last mini facelift. Schultz, who is the MainStreet director at the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, said that business and property owners — as well as members of the public — will be sweeping the streets come Thursday.
“The program is kind of an off-shoot of a spring cleanup that we do with the ALC students,” Schultz explained. “We partner with the street department and the parks department and people gather and go through the lots to clean up.”
The Fall Downtown Business District Cleanup will take place on Thursday, Oct. 10, beginning at 5 p.m. Volunteers will gather in the green space next to Old Town Bagels before dividing and conquering downtown, equipped with brooms, rakes, and garbage bags.
“They get a lot of garbage and it’s always surprising,” Schultz said, stating that the trash on found downtown isn’t necessarily from the businesses, but sometimes from motorists or things just being blown around. “People tend to be amazed what they find, especially the amount of cigarette butts.”
Schultz further explained that the workers tend to rake up leaves, pull weeds, and do whatever it takes to help spruce up their beloved downtown area before the holiday season commences.
“Downtown is really the living room to the whole town,” Schultz laughed. “Everybody is in the downtown area. There is a lot more going on with new businesses and shops plus the new apartments. All of that will bring more people to downtown.”
It is well-known that Owatonna takes pride in its downtown district, which Schultz asserted is how it should be. She said that a lot can be said about a community based on their state of the downtown, such as their economic success and how happy the citizens tend to be.
“When people come into a town, whether they’re driving by visiting or being recruited for a job there, they will often pull off and drive downtown to get a good feel of the place,” she said. “They ask themselves, ‘Can I see myself and my loved ones spending time down here?’”
In the inaugural fall cleanup event last year, Schultz said about 20 people came out to help pick up the streets and lots. She is hopefully that more people will come out this year.
“We actually have a few residents that you can see walking around town that will pick up garbage, sometimes on a daily basis,” Schultz said. “It really shows a lot of pride in the community.”
To volunteer or to make a monetary contribution to beautification projects and the cleanup effort, contact the chamber at (507) 451-7970.