PLEASANT PRAIRIE — Specialty shops, cafes, fresh foods in a public market; year-round greenhouses to supply a local farmers market; wine bars and beer gardens; loft apartments above retail shops surrounding a public square; a summer splash pad that doubles as a winter ice rink; walking and biking trails; a children’s theater, an outdoor amphitheater, and a bandshell.
At a gathering of the Village Green Center’s subcommittees planning Pleasant Prairie’s future downtown last week, these were just some of the ideas that began to take shape for the 100-acre area roughly bounded by 97th Street, 39th Avenue, Highway 165 and 47th Avenue.
The resident-led planning effort, which launched in mid-January, is being facilitated with the help of consultant Todd Streeter, principal of Community Collaboration, based in Lakeland, Minn.
Over the last two months, the subcommittees have been working individually to address eight concepts that the larger committee will use in establishing a final plan for Village Green Center, Streeter said.
The subcommittees are: Epicenter on the Prairie — Civic Facilities & Amenities/Smart Community; Village Marketplace — Commercial District; A Place for Everyone — Housing Options; The Leisurely Life — Parks, Trails, Open Spaces, and Recreation; Arrive As You Wish — Vehicle & Personal Modal Infrastructure; Pleasantville — Aesthetics, Branding and Themes; Earthly Relations — Sustainable Development (land & structures); and The Village Voice — Marketing and Promotion.
During the two-hour session held at LakeView Technology Academy on Thursday, members from the 10-member subcommittees were randomly assigned to work on six downtown mapping teams. Out of these teams, one, or possibly two, are expected to emerge and even merge to become the main plan for Village Green Center. The process is expected to take about nine months.
Streeter said that over the past few months residents involved were asked three questions to help guide them in their initial planning.
“What do you love about Pleasant Prairie? What could be improved? And, what’s missing? Those three questions are what will provide a 360-degree view of Pleasant Prairie at-large and will show where there are common values,” he said.
Since then, the members in each of the subcommittees have done their own research, whether online, in consultation with members with expertise or others outside the groups.
Some of the common themes that came forth in the mapping process included having a village square and civic area with retail shops lining the upside-down horseshoe formed where 39th Avenue and Springbrook Road converge just to the southwest of the roundabout and west of the Village Hall and fire station campus.
Some of the maps conceptualized single-family housing to the west gradually transitioning to condos and apartments toward the downtown hub. Theater-type structures were located to the south and just west of 39th Avenue. Some of the maps also envisioned a future police department south of 100th Street and north of Highway 165 on the east side of 39th Avenue. The police department is currently located in the Roger Prange Center with the village public works department at 8600 Green Bay Road.
Other than the existing main thoroughfares, new streets and roadways have yet to be incorporated into the site concepts.
“What we’ve also been asking the subcommittees with structures involved are the types of buildings that could go into the downtown and their square footages,” he said. “We need to know how much of a footprint to work with so we can then be more accurate in how we lay out the rest of it. We want to make sure we use the best lay of the land before we worry about where streets go.”
Cierra Reif, a resident on the marketing subcommittee, said the process of planning has been an interactive experience for her.
“There’s so many different people here with different backgrounds,” said Reif, who moved to the village a year ago and lives just southwest of Village Green in the Foxmoor Estates subdivision.
“It’s a lot of ideas. Right now, we’re taking a step back, gathering everyone’s ideas, and we’re actually going to be continuing on after this is all done,” she said. “I’m still trying to wrap my head around how’s it going to look at the end.
“It’s a lot to grasp, but I think it’ll be exciting once we come down more the line this summer where things are getting more finalized.”
Steve Hansen, a 20-year resident of the village, said he was impressed with the process.
“It’s a big change, and I think it’s interesting how many people have come to consensus in a short time. It’s kind of funny how the ideas are coming together faster than I thought we would,” said Hansen, a parks and recreation subcommittee member. “I mean, we still have a long ways to go, but the spirit of the thing seems to be going very well.”
Streeter said the team meetings are the basis for “cross pollination” collaboration from subcommittee members.
“It’s the finessing of this work that will be the journey now for the next series of meetings,” he said. “You’re really gluing the bones of this development. It does need to sing like a choir when it’s done.”
For more on the Village Green Center project, visit https://pleasantprairiewi.gov/cms/one.aspx?portalId=6079616&pageId=14996249.