O'Brien: It takes a lot to keep downtown Quincy looking good - Quincy Herald-Whig | Illinois & Missouri News, Sports

O'Brien: It takes a lot to keep downtown Quincy looking good

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Travis Brown knows the value of curb appeal. As executive director of the Historic Quincy Business District, it is something he preaches to downtown business owners.

"It's vital," he said. "When you go to a big box (retailer), they have a whole lot of curb to work with. Downtown, you might only have 20 feet of curb to work with, and you have to make the most of it. If your 20 feet is dirty or trashed, it doesn't make people want to get out of their cars and come shop in your business."

The HQBD is doing all it can to entice people to come to the downtown area and shop. The group started in January to hand out beautification awards to businesses that go above and beyond by sprucing up their areas. They also recently planted flowers and plants in planters throughout the downtown area.

However, earlier this month after the planting was finished, eight of the 56 planters were vandalized. Thanks to a downtown resident who has security cameras outside his building, two Quincy teenagers -- Donald Rowsey, 19, and Breanna Patrick, 18 -- were arrested last Saturday and charged with malicious mischief.

Brown said the damage cost the HQBD between $100 and $150. The damage was done over a wide area. Brown called those who committed the crimes "equal opportunity vandals."

"This caused more of a headache," Brown said. "We didn't budget time, energy or money to take care of the problem. It ate up quite a bit of additional time."

May is the start of the busy season for the downtown. The annual Dogwood Festival was held earlier this month in and around Washington Park. As you're reading this Saturday morning, hundreds of runners and walkers are weaving their way through the district as part of the annual "Bridge The Gap To Health" run.

Next weekend, the Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament will have the park and the streets that surround it filled with players and fans. The Midsummer Arts Faire will set up shop next month in the downtown area. Recurring events like the Farmers Market, which started its season last week, and the Blues in the District, which starts next month, also call the downtown home.

Making sure that the area looks good for all of those events is one of Brown's top priorities.

"We work a lot to keep downtown clean," Brown said. "With 75 square blocks in the district, it's tough (to keep tidy)."

Brown said those who use the downtown and Washington Park for special events are required to handle the cleanup afterward.

"A lot of times you can walk through here on a Monday morning and not know that thousands of people have just been here," he said. "We have a good plan of action throughout the course of the year with Central Services to make sure the bigger events get handled."

We can lend a hand, too. Rather than toss that hot dog wrapper to the ground while watching your kid play basketball, or instead of dropping the bottle cap on your beer to the ground while listening to blues music, stuff it in your pocket or find a trash can.

And don't mess with the flowers.

-- dobrien@whig.com/221-3370

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