Design students lay out possibilities
By Scott Bellile
The upcoming State Highway 15 bypass will change the face of downtown Hortonville within the next decade. Villagers appear to be optimistic about what that future holds.
At the Hortonville Vision 2020 event held June 8 at the opera house, the village displayed renderings of Hortonville circa 2022 when the completed bypass diverts thousands of cars per day from the village and consequently opens Main Street to easier foot traffic.
Northcentral Technical College architecture and design students partnered with the village and East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (ECWRPC) to create the renderings. The students had interviewed village officials, visited businesses and used drone footage this spring to lay out the future downtown.
Visions for downtown
One of the new additions pictured in the renderings should be completed before the bypass even starts construction.
Students provided their vision for a park space at the intersection of Main and Nash streets where the former library was demolished in April. The village plans a public space with trees, seating, a water wall fountain and drinking water for people and pets. It’s tentatively called Memorial Square.
Village Administrator Diane Wessel said construction could begin this fall, thanks to a $20,000 donation in memory of Hortonville native Jason Quinn, who died in 2012. Wessel said the project will move in phases with work done as money comes in.
Another vision is to extend the 22-mile south segment of the Wiouwash State Trail into the downtown. The south segment currently ends at Lake View Avenue.
If and when the state announces a trail extension, the village would then like Outagamie County to install bike lanes on Main Street to help draw the trail riders into town.
“That was a big part of [our vision], was to be bicycle and pedestrian friendly,” Wessel said about the village’s future. “That was a must.”
Eventually the state aims to link the Wiouwash south segment with the north segment in Shawano County.
“What a perfect spot for Hortonville to be, right on that trail,” said Nickolas Musson, associate transportation planner for ECWRP.
Wessel said the village is already working on a land purchase that could eventually connect the Wiouwash to Alonzo Park.
The students in addition created plans for interior and exterior facelifts for three businesses, one existing and two not yet in operation.
Business owners inspired
The existing business of the three, Hardtails Saloon, 208 W. Main St., received feasible designs that could one day help in renovating the establishment, Hardtails owner Jodi Jurkovac said.
“Everything has room for improvement,” Jurkovac said. She said nothing is planned at this time but she liked the students’ plans for refacing the building, linking her bar to the back patio and making her establishment ADA compliant.
Grace Abitz and Jane Jarvis are working to open Alley Cat Coffeehouse at 213 W. Main St. this summer. They said their visions differ from the students’ designs, so while they won’t follow them, they enjoyed the finished product.
As first-time brick-and-mortar business owners, the women said the project educated them in essential building information like fire codes.
The women described what customers could expect when Alley Cat opens.
“It’s going to be small and cozy inside,” Jarvis said. “Not very much seating, just what the space calls for.”
“I don’t want it to look like a super modern Starbucks spot,” Abitz said. “I want it to be vibey and eclectic.”
The third business, The Enchanted Florist, 203 W. Main St., won’t break ground until fall—presently it’s an empty lot where a building burned down last December.
Owner Lu Visocky too has her own ideas she’ll follow with her building, but she said the students captured her visions in their renderings.
Visocky said she’ll construct a building that’s “old-fashioned yet modern.” She envisions wrought iron fencing, a brick facade with big storefront display windows for inventory, a cobblestone brick path, a side garden and a greenhouse in back.
“I’m really passionate about rebuilding the town,” Visocky said.
Residents share thoughts
Attendees at the event were pleased with the students’ ideas. Some said the plans show Hortonville is progressive.
“I just think what they’re looking to do is phenomenal,” Sandy Dowling said.
A Hortonville resident, Dowling plans to move her New London business Sandy’s D’Cor & More to Hortonville next year. Her husband Elmer criticized the city of New London for in his eyes lacking innovation. She preferred to attribute her reason for moving to hometown pride.
“Because we live here, we’re more apt to help here,” Dowling said. “I have a business in New London so I don’t want to smash New London, but we live here.”
Musson said learning of Dowling’s plan was a highlight of the night.
“It’s fun to see people paying attention to what’s going on and excited about the potential,” Musson said. “That was probably the coolest thing.”
Hortonville residents Patty and Gary Schwarzbauer attended to learn about the bypass project. They didn’t know villagers were working on a downtown revitalization until they saw the students’ renderings displayed.
They said they were interested in what they saw. They liked that the students included the vintage Blatz beer sign located on the east wall of The Studio Lounge in their rendering of the downtown park space. The mid-20th century sign was discovered when the adjoining former library was demolished. They said they hope The Studio Lounge will keep the sign there.
Hortonville resident Darlene Bosin said she liked viewing the Memorial Square rendering and appreciated that the village is interested in green space.
“We need more of that,” Bosin said.