Downtown visioning event draws ideas

SLEEPY EYE — A public meeting on downtown visioning drew a variety of ideas at the Sleepy Eye Event Center July 31.

Sponsored by the Sleepy Eye Economic Development Authority (EDA), the event attended by about 50 people began with table discussions on downtown activities, physical appearance, retail ideas, traffic, parking and other ideas.

Bringing specialty shops to town was a popular idea. A number of people said combining stores under one roof, possibly with a restaurant and/or coffee shop would be desirable.

It was mentioned that store rent needed to be reasonable enough to allow the business to turn a profit right away.

Sleepy Eye EDA Coordinator Kurk Kramer said brew pubs are some of the most popular and successful businesses he’s seen while traveling around the country.

Cruise-ins were mentioned as a good way to bring people downtown and promote downtown business as long as restaurant and bar owners were willing to get involved. Since a number of establishments are located downtown, a number of people said they should be popular.

Downtown concerts with local high school bands and other musicians and groups, possibly at veterans’ park, were mentioned as another downtown draw.

Other wants included a Mexican restaurant, used book store, ice cream and malt shop, street benches, popcorn wagon, which was said to be located somewhere in town, and a farmers’ market.

A combination store idea included fabrics, sewing machines, vacuum repair and knife sharpening businesses.

Sleepy Eye Mayor Wayne Pelzel urged participants to talk to city councilors about supporting the EDA to promote new businesses in town.

“Without funding, these things will fall away,” Pelzel said.

Dyckman Librarian Andrew Helton said he had a local craftsman build a wooden stand that holds library books located in Sportsman’s Park.

“I may expand the mobile stands to other parks in town,’ Helton said.

Trolley rides were mentioned. A number of people in and around town offer horse-drawn wagon rides already.

Kramer said he heard from a number of senior citizens who said they’d like to ride around the Sleepy Eye Lake Trail because they’ve never done so. The trail does not allow motorized vehicles at this time. Kramer said if that could to be changed, golf carts may be a way to show senior citizens the trail.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at