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Newton Looks to Pave a New Path with Downtown Boost

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NEWTON, Iowa-- There are still those who believe Newton is struggling to find its way after losing nearly 2,000 jobs with Maytag's departure in 2007.

Linda Birkenholtz, a former Maytag employee saw the impact first hand.  She said, "It took a huge chunk out of Newton and turned it into a bedroom community with people traveling out of town for work and businesses were suffering.  It was just a slap in the face.  I think people are trying to put it behind them and move forward now."

Despite the setback, growth can still be seen through such developments such as the Iowa Speedway and in 2014 the city was chosen as a Main Street City, putting Newton back in the driver seat of economic development.   "As part of Main Street Iowa, the focus is on economic development and historic preservation as a key component of that," said Erin Chambers, Newton Director of Planning and Zoning.

For the second time since June, residents gathered inside City Hall as two consultant groups Bolton & Menk and Berglund & Cram, teamed up to unveil design concepts revamping everything from store fronts and street lights to crosswalks and trashcans.

Chambers also said the community wanted something more.  "On top of that we don't have a lot of public gathering spaces so if you want to grab a sandwich and eat outside there's not a great place to do that."

Current plans focus on downtown from East Fourth Street to West Fourth Street and the 8 surrounding blocks.

While skeptics are doubtful renovations could change the towns fortunes, those in favor of the plans say now is the time for Newton pave a brand new path.

A price tag still has not been finalized but a final design product is expected as soon as September with projects beginning next budget season.


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