œThe kids need somewhere to have fun, said Heather Oczkowski, when asked what she thought Winona™s downtown needed. She suggested that a kid-friendly venue for music and art would make a great addition to the heart of Winona.

Word on the street: What does downtown need?


Susan Sommers said parking and a nice restaurant or two would be an improvement for Winona™s river district.

Scott Sherman said he™d like to see more happening downtown after five.

by Sarah Squires

"It turns into a ghost town after five o'clock."

Some say it needs a few nice restaurants along the riverfront, a place for kids to enjoy music, more parking.

It's downtown Winona, it's historic Winona, and while some people might not have many gripes with it, some do.

Scott Sherman moved here for school in 1991, and he says that, aside from the bar nightlife, downtown just kind of dies after five. He said that the area could use a high-end restaurant, and some places that stay open later that aren't just bars.

"Winona; it's not just college kids," he said, adding that there ought to be more going on downtown at night than just drinking.

"Parking," was the first thing to come to Susan Sommers' mind when asked what the downtown area could use. "Not enough of it."

Sommers wasn't the only one who immediately thought of parking when asked the same question. Rhonda Brown agreed, and said that there needs to be more long-term parking so people have more than two hours to shop around and play downtown.

"I'd like to see a nicer restaurant," said Amy Krzewinski, admitting it was tough to come up with a wish list for Winona's heart. "With the river view, there's such an opportunity for something nice there."

While the city's comprehensive planning process is beginning to really take shape, two related downtown groups will discuss in early January the possibility of merging. The Historic Downtown Business Group and the Downtown Revitalization Committee may meet the future hand-in-hand.

So far, the potential merger is just an idea, and hasn't really been discussed with the Historic Downtown Business Group yet. Mary Polus, who is a member of both groups, said that the Downtown Revitalization Committee discussed the idea and has proposed that the business group take a look.

"It's just an idea," said Polus of the potential for a merger, adding that the two groups do have a bit of overlap.

The Historic Downtown Business Group won't necessarily take the issue to a vote at its next meeting, but will have the chance to discuss the possibility.

And while the city looks ahead for what the future may hold for downtown and the rest of Winona, the push to enhance and revitalize the city's oldest areas along the river is taking shape.

Janis Vose said that, if the Historical Society can come up with an arrangement with the county to help expand its museum, it will help enhance the area. "More people will come to Winona," she said.

Barb Corey said that it would be nice to see more people, stores and economic activity downtown. She said that the parking issues are beginning to be cleared up as Merchants Bank is adding a lot, and the city's Port Authority plans to build a lot at the current Chrysler site on Main Street.


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