North Side receives ample attention from city


I am one of the business owners in the North Side neighborhood, and I was quite pleased that your paper covered our interest in working with the city to improve and promote our neighborhood (“North Side Iowa City looks for clear identity, financial support,” DI, June 15). Thank you for taking the time to speak to so many of us, to assemble the article, and for making our community aware of our efforts.

I am, however, concerned about the tone of the article. I feel it is very important not to set a tone of difference when, in my opinion, there isn’t one. We met with Iowa City Mayor Regenia Bailey and Director for Economic Development Wendy Ford for two principal reasons: to raise the issue of safety on our sidewalks and to share information for future plans. The city took immediate action on our safety concerns by performing quick, effective temporary patches to the unsafe portions of our sidewalk. Bailey and Ford were both very helpful in answering our other questions and suggesting approaches to deal with our other ideas.

As I understand it, North Side business owners’ principal concerns were:

• Safety, ease of maintenance (shoveling and weeding among the bricks is challenging), and beautification of the existing streetscape.

• Information about other maintenance issues such as street sand removal in the spring, general street and sidewalk cleaning, and posters tacked to light poles (we were informed that there is an ordinance against this practice).

• Contact information for our future concerns and ideas.

• General brainstorming about future possibilities, such as sidewalk-café areas, signage possibilities, and inclusion in the city’s promotions of its shopping districts, as well as my hope that we might be able to make better use of city provisions such as parking areas when we move toward creating North Side events.

I don’t think the city officials walked away with the impression that we were asking them to make our businesses succeed any more than we did. We’re entrepreneurs, and finding solutions and possibilities is part of our job. We were asking for the city to maintain its streetscape in the short term and to open lines of communication with us for the longer term so that we can work together to improve our neighborhood in tandem with the city’s overall image and our concept for our streets.

I can’t speak for the whole neighborhood, because I’m still the newest of the new businesses in the area — my shop moved to its present location in January of this year — and because we’ve only just started our new neighborhood association. I do think, however, that I can say that we’re all looking forward to more dialogue with each other, with the city, and with our patrons. The North Side has so much to offer and, with our mutual energies and cooperation, I am sure we can make this an even better neighborhood.

Nialle Sylvan is the owner of the Haunted Bookshop, 203 N Linn St.

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