On Wednesday night, over 40 citizens packed the Brookfield Elks ballroom for a strategic planning meeting as the latest phase of the DREAM Initiative. The meeting featured attendance from all of the City Council, the City Manager, one County Commissioner, and many business owners in Brookfield.

On Wednesday night, over 40 citizens packed the Brookfield Elks ballroom for a strategic planning meeting as the latest phase of the DREAM Initiative.  The meeting featured attendance from all of the City Council, the City Manager, one County Commissioner, and many business owners in Brookfield.
The meeting began at 5:30 p.m. with Brookfield IDA Director Becky Cleveland starting things off.  Cleveland shared the history of Downtown Revitalization in Brookfield through the years.  Interestingly enough, this is not something that started with the DREAM.  
Cleveland admitted that the efforts to bring downtown Brookfield back up to par have “had limited success, with good intentions.”  She talked about efforts in the 1970’s led by the late Ives Bowden, who had a scale model of what Main Street could look like.  
In the 1980’s, new sidewalks and streetscapes were added downtown.  At that time, a study was done, and the problems noted with Main Street were as follows:
- Deteriorating Buildings
- Deteriorating Infrastructure
Business owners responded with cleaning up their buildings.  Some participated, others did not.  Then in 2004, the old theatre in Brookfield collapsed.  Cleveland spoke emotionally about how this impacted the community.
After the collapse of this Brookfield landmark, new flower pots were placed downtown, again trying to help the ailing business district on Main Street.  While most thought the efforts ended there, in reality a ball had began rolling that would grow into the boulder that is the DREAM.
Cleveland told of the folks who started with the flower pot project, and stayed together with the idea of bringing Main Street back to life.  They formed committees, and started planning just how they could fix downtown.
The group applied for the DREAM (Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri) Initiative.  The first time they filed, they were rejected due to not having a plan.  They worked with the University of Missouri Extension, who brought them the Drury University students who formed the initial plan for bringing Brookfield’s downtown to life.
“First of all, just being selected as a DREAM community was an amazing thing,” said Cleveland after the meeting.  “We have a lot of tools at our disposal now that we didn’t have before.  This will allow us to put together a plan.  If you don’t have a plan in place, you can’t take advantage of opportunities when they arise.  Things are always done on a knee-jerk.  We are getting a plan and an organization that will take ownership of this project.  It’s like for sidewalk repair.  You can’t just say you want it done, you have to apply for a grant, knowing what you need to spend, and what you are putting in.”
With the plan in place, Brookfield was designated a DREAM community in 2009.  A meeting (covered here in the LCL) was held, and the plans to actually implement the plan was formulated.  Twin Parks was chosen as the first project to be made into reality.
Events, such as the Piccadilly and Party for the Park were held.  Funds were, and are being raised, for the Walk of Heroes.  The oval at the park, specifically, is the first project scheduled to be completed.
The Civil War Statue (also covered in the LCL) was renovated.  The momentum of this project is the reason the oval will be completed first.  Committees were planned and met, figuring out action steps needed to complete projects throughout the park.
Cleveland ended her opening comments by noting that:  “We all know what is wrong with downtown, and we have had meetings to discuss why.  But revitalization does not mean bringing the past back.  It means preserving what we have, and bringing new life to our community.  This is about the future of Brookfield.”
Next, Joe Decepida from PGAV of St. Louis, the architecture firm that works with the DREAM Initiative, took the floor.
“This process is more about being proactive than reactive,” said Decepida.  “You want to have the plan in place so that when opportunities arise, the community has a plan going forward.  You want to know how to proceed.  The money isn’t always there, but when it is, you want a plan of action.  This makes the community more attractive to investors, who would be squeamish if the plan wasn’t in place.”
Decepida noted the steps in the DREAM that Brookfield had already completed:
- Organizational Structure Review – This surveyed entities that involved making events happen or touched the downtown area.   It looked at their roles and how they related to each other.  The formation of a Main Street group was suggested and implemented.
- Map Reference Handbook – This book has existing conditions information.  As well as information on the condition of sidewalks, vacant buildings, and the various zoning information.  
- Community Telephone Survey – This was a phone survey of 300 randomly selected citizens.  They conducted interviews, containing 65 questions, and this was done to get a sense of what the community feels is most important,  the challenges to revitalization, and the direction of downtown.  
- Residential Demand Analysis – An appraiser established market demand for housing near downtown.  
- Building and Streetscapes Design Guidelines – Artist renderings were done for Twin Parks.  Also made were plans, which took looks at the existing conditions of buildings, streets, and sidewalks.  They then gave tips for improvement where it is needed.  
- Financial Assistance Review – This study took looks at how to pay for the revitalization efforts.  
Decepida also noted projects that were on hold or in the process of being done:
- Retail Market Analysis – This study looks at the downtown retail and demand for sectors.  
- Marketing Toolkit – This will be a best practices guide with templates and how to coordinate events. A reference guide for those who are “selling” Brookfield’s downtown.  
- Downtown Strategic Plan – This was the meeting held on Wednesday night.  It ties together all of the plans, and identifies the challenges and opportunities for Brookfield.  It  guides future actions, and directs limited resources to where they are needed.  
Each of these items was gone over.  The results of these findings have been previously published in the LCL, and are again summarized above.  The floor was then opened to questions.