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Efforts continue to enhance downtown Rochester

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX47) — The Rochester Downtown Alliance has been busy over the last few months trying to make downtown more beautiful.

The pandemic and construction downtown has been difficult for the city. The organization has needed to get extra creative with ensuring visitors and residents have a positive downtown experience.

Phase one of RDA’s improvement plan was the “Clean and Safe Ambassador” program that launched in July. The ambassadors can be seen in their orange shirts, cleaning around the city and helping visitors get around.

Phase two included making public spaces like Peace Plaza and Central Park more attractive. Over the last few weeks, refurbished tables, better lighting, new plants and hand sanitizing stations have been installed.

The Senior Director of Placemaking Karli McElroy said the additions and upgrades seem to be working.

“Looking at other spaces downtown last year and comparing them to Peace Plaza and Central Park, there really wasn’t a lot of traffic,” McElroy said. “In Peace Plaza, just to see the change and seeing people come down to those spaces, knowing we can keep them safe and clean, it’s been incredible.”

Central Park has a “Sidewalk Sessions” series going on right now from Monday through Friday. Musicians play and people can sit and listen while social distancing. At this point, it is set to go into October, weather permitting.

McElroy said they are brainstorming how to help restaurants and bars with the winter months coming up. Some ideas they’ve considered is increased outdoor heaters, enclosed patios or even igloos that people can dine in.

“All of this is a challenge cities across the country are dealing with right now,” McElroy said.

Megan Zemple

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