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Emmetsburg Downtown Qualifies As A “Very Walkable” Neighborhood

By Staff | Oct 16, 2008

Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce Director Cecilia Miller recently attended “Sustainable Downtowns…Unlimited Possibilities,” the 22nd Annual Iowa Downtown Summit held Aug. 26-27 in Charles City. The Summit was sponsored by Iowa Department of Economic Development’s Iowa Downtown Resource Center, the Federal Home Loan Bank, and Charles City Community Revitalization, with additional conference contributions provided by Wells Dairy, Inc.

During the Summit, nationally renowned experts in downtown development offered informative sessions on sustainability and “green” philosophies that can help both rural and urban communities creatively address the revitalization of their city centers.

One of the classes that Miller attended was on the “walkability” of downtown communities. The online site, Walk Score, ranks neighborhoods to find just how easy it is to get around without a vehicle. The rating is calculated by determining the ease of walking to nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, move theaters, etc. Rankings range from a “Walker’s Paradise” (the most walkable) to “Car Dependent (driving only).

“When I returned home form the Summit, I went online to www.walkscore.com, and saw that our rating was at 60 percent,” said Miller.

A 60 percent rating means that the downtown Emmetsburg area was considered “somewhat walkable.

“I really challenged the Retail Association to increase our score,” Miller said. “I went online to the site and listed some of Emmetsburg’s businesses and attractions, and now our score has increased 77 percent.

A 77 percent rating places the downtown community in the “very walkable” category, meaning that it is possible to get by without owning a car.

While Miller is happy with the improved rating, she would like to see it go even higher.

“Everyone’s going ‘green’,” Miller noted. “What are we doing? Can you get around without a car? Are there pretty places to sit downtown? Is there entertainment within walking distance? With gas at $4 a gallon, there’s never been a better time to live in a walkable neighborhood.”

Members of the public can go online to Google.com, search for Emmetsburg, and click on the Google maps link. Users can critique any of the various local retailers that are listed.

People can add their comments about their experiences with Emmetsburg businesses and restaurants.