The city of Ozark received a $25,000 grant in March 2006 to develop a plan to bring more people to the downtown area.
The city hired KPS Group of Birmingham to design that plan. Since then, the company has been meeting with city leaders and residents to decide what will be best for the area.
Darrell Meyer of KPS Group says support from the community has to be present to do make any changes to the area. That's because one of the biggest problems doesn't lie in the city's hands. It's the privately-owned, run-down, unusable buildings and vacant lots that crowd the city square.
"The times of this downtown have passed and the condition it's in. It's time to re-invest and it's time fore private owners to reinvest in their property just like it's time for the city to reinvest in the streets," says Darrell Meyer, KPS Group Director of Planning.
Based on complaints of people in Ozark, KPS planners say there is no lack of parking spaces in the downtown area. It's just a lack of convenient parking. But all the concerns will be addressed before any changes will be made.
"Most of what needs to be done isn't going to cost the city much money. Most of what needs to be done has to do with getting a group organized who is absolutely committed to revitalizing downtown Ozark," says Meyer.
Meyer told Ozark leaders and residents that the city should make the downtown an historic district. By making it historic, planners say it will give the city more right-of-way on State Highway 231 to advertise its downtown, and ultimately draw more people to the area.
Right now, no immediate changes are set to come to the city. KPS officials suggested creating a downtown management group to create unison among the businesses to combat the uncoordinated store hours for the downtown businesses.
KPS is planning to meet with the Ozark community at least three more times before giving a set plan for the city.