By Kyle Thompson
Pleasant Grove’s downtown has been lagging behind other Utah County cities in commercial development.
Now, as the city celebrates its sesquicentennial this week, Pleasant Grove is seeking to leave the past behind and move into the modern era.
According to City Councilwoman Carol Harmer, the past several months have been devoted to renovating the downtown area.
“The downtown area has been totally redone,” Harmer said.
New streets, new sewers, and wider sidewalks along Main Street, as well as benches and new streetlights are the result of a redevelopment project to improve the downtown area.
In addition, the city has petitioned for, and received, permission to build a freeway exit at 700 South. This will give the city its first direct freeway access, Harmer said.
Melanie Miller is the owner of Melanie’s Gourmet Gardens, a specialty food store on Pleasant Grove’s Main Street. She said the city needs to do more to help local business owners and bring commerce to the downtown area.
Miller said that she and other downtown business owners have been pushing the city to improve the downtown for the past five years.
Miller said her love for the town has motivated her to get involved.
“This town should be hopping,” Miller said.
“I want to able to have a business in Pleasant Grove. I want the economics to come back. I’ve owned this store for five years and lost between $40,000 and $50,000, and I don’t have any overhead.”
Leslie Tweedy, a beautician at Jonathan David’s Salon, agrees that Pleasant Grove’s government needs to do more to promote the downtown area. She said most of her customers come from the Provo-Orem area, not from Pleasant Grove.
Other businesses owners, such as Suzanne Kirby, said they are doubtful that more government involvement is needed.
For example, Kirby, owner of the Little London Dinner Theatre, said that her business is doing well and that the city is putting forth a great effort.
“They could do more to help downtown businesses, there’s so few of them. But, the freeway exit will be a benefit for everybody,” Kirby said.
Steve Jackman, owner of Jackman Electronics, said that he feels Pleasant Grove is just too small for an expansion of the business district.
“I don’t think that people shop in downtown areas anymore,” he said.
Although Jackman admits that he has experienced a drop in business lately, he attributes it to the fact that people would rather replace electronic products than have them repaired.
Jackman said that he expects business to pick up as his shop does more repair on products like satellite dishes.
Wyatt Carman, owner of Timpanogos Cyclery, said that the bike shop, located around the corner from Melanie’s and just down the street from Jackman’s Electronics, couldn’t be doing much better.
“We do really well. For being a shop off State Street we sell a lot of bikes,” he said.
Pleasant Grove’s new freeway access should be finished in September of 2002. In the meantime, work will continue on rehabilitating the downtown, Harmer said.