Envisioning the future development in downtown Denison for years to come — that was the goal of Denison Main Street visioning session held with local business owners, residents and stakeholders this week.

Envisioning the future development in downtown Denison for years to come — that was the goal of Denison Main Street visioning session held with local business owners, residents and stakeholders this week.


About 90 members of the public attended the meeting, on Tuesday at the SNAP Center in Denison, said Donna Dow, director of Denison Main Street. The crowd was a mixture of private citizens, business and property owners, and visitors to the city, said Dow.


"We were extremely happy with the turnout," said Dow. Outside of the general public, Dow said she was encouraged to see members of other economic and revitalization organizations showing an interest in the meeting, including the Denison Development Alliance, Denison Development Foundation, Denison Chamber of Commerce, and Downtown Denison, Inc.


The visioning meeting was the first that the downtown-based group has held since 2009, when 60 people were in attendance, said Dow. DMS held a follow up meeting in 2012 to update the community on projects that came up in the 2009 meeting. Projects that came from the 2009 session include public restrooms in downtown and the open air stage in Heritage Park.


Prior to the meeting, Dow requested that attendees answer a questionnaire which asked them to give their vision of the city and where they’d like to see development lead in the downtown area. The DMS added onto this at the meeting by asking attendees to write what they would like to see in the future of Denison if money were no object. The responses were varied, said Dow.


On the more costly side, Dow said that there were requests for more mass transit options, such as an extension of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system into the area, or a way to more readily connect with it. Dow made reference to agreements that Denton has with the transit group, but admits proximity may be an issue.


A common answer to that question was extended hours of businesses in the downtown district, said Dow. In the past businesses had used what Dow referred to as "summer hours" with the standard being from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. As winter as come, Dow said, it is not uncommon for businesses to close before 6 p.m.


Another common answer was that the city needs more restaurants to draw people to the Main Street, said Dow. She said the common theme was, by bringing restaurants to the area, it would have a secondary affect on neighboring businesses.


"Restaurants are a big need, and we feel they will be a driver for our other businesses," said Dow.


Another idea proposed at the meeting was the development of Denison’s entertainment district to include draws like outdoor music and improv comedy shows. Other options that were proposed at the meeting are already in the works, including enhanced landscaping in the district, said Dow.


While no ideas have been officially adopted, the DMS is currently working on the next step in the brainstorming process. At the end of the meeting, Dow asked attendees if they would prefer a secondary meeting to follow up on progress and ideas or if a survey would be best. The group was split nearly in half, said Dow, who is considering the possibility of both options in the future.