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Mountain Home invests $5 million into downtown infrastructure

Larger sidewalks and news roads are meant to make downtown Mountain Home more welcoming, according to Mayor Rich Sykes. The construction took three years.

MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho — About 100 Idahoans gathered at the new HUB Plaza in downtown Mountain Home for a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the end of three years of construction.

The three-phase project is meant to make downtown Mountain Home more welcoming as aging infrastructure was in need of replacement. The cost of the updates landed in the neighborhood of $5 million, according to Mountain Home Mayor Rich Sykes.

"Kind of like Field of Dreams," Mountain Home Councilman Matt Bundy said. "Built it and they will come."

It's an investment that many local businesses appreciate because, for a long time, Mountain Home did have the appeal needed to drive foot traffic up and down commercial streets.

"It was a ghost town," Nelda Martinez said, the owner of Jennie's Boutique. "It was looking pretty quiet around here."

Martinez has been in downtown Mountain Home at the same location for 20 years. While the construction put a burden on her business in the short term, the payoff is already being seen. 

"I was excited when I heard the construction was over, back to business. I think it's just a great thing," Martinez said. "I think people love to come down here and just walk. They have things going on in the park on the weekends. There's just a lot of things to do now. Makes it really good for my business."

It was a plan in the making for years as Mayor Sykes knew something had to change. 

"The walkability of the downtown was horrendous, the sidewalks were beat up, the infrastructure itself didn't drain the water correctly," Sykes said. "If we're not taking care of our businesses, we're not taking care of our citizens as well. so that's how this whole process kind of started."

So while "building it," investing into downtown, is an effort to bring people in, the strategy appears to be equally effective at retaining those already in town.

"This place has really livened up with this construction a lot," Martinez said. "Maybe I'll be here for another 20 years. And if I am, I wanna keep seeing it grow. I wanna keep growing with the city too as well. So I'm excited."

Mayor Sykes said necessary upgrades will continue to be addressed. As for the next project on the list, plans for updating Railroad Park, which is across the street from Jennie's, are on the way.

"We don't want Mountain home to look like any other city but Mountain Home," Sykes said. "But we want Mountain Home to have the same amenities as some other towns."

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