Montrose Riverfront Inc: A Decade At Work
An all-volunteer organization has accomplished plenty in Montrose over the last ten years. Montrose Riverfront Inc. got its start as part of an effort to develop a former elevator site along the river.
Greg Ruth currently serves as President of the organization.
"It was really an organization based on trying to preserve a waterfront area and trying to recognize the history and help Montrose have a little direction for the future," said Ruth.
A highlight of the effort has been the Riverfront Pavilion, which is a bright red structure that resembles a barn. It is the home of Montrose's farmers market on Tuesday afternoons during the summer.
It is a far cry from how it looked in the past when it was a run-down storage unit.
Montrose Riverfront Inc. has not only refurbished the pavilion, but also transformed another building into a museum, tore down several silos and built a large observation deck.
"Every time we made an improvement on a property, the asset next door to it started to look kind of tacky, so we tackled it." Ruth said.
Ruth said the group's success can be directly attributed to Mary Sue Chatfield, who is quick to deflect any praise.
She and her husband, Roger, have been involved in both the improvement projects and the documentation of Montrose’s history along the way.
"We went to school here," Chatfield said. "I taught in the Central Lee School District for 42 years. You just become tied to a community and we just wanted to see if we couldn’t help do something to improve the community and make it a better place to live.”
Chatfield said there is a core group of residents in charge of the planning and organizing for Montrose Riverfront Inc. and when the call goes out for help, even more people respond.
"It's a great group of volunteers," said Chatfield. "That is what you need, people willing to help."
Montrose Riverfront Inc. has already identified new ways for people to help. It’s raising money for plaques to honor the town’s more famous former residents that will be placed near the flower beds. The first would be for Cal McVey, Iowa's first professional baseball player.
It’s also preparing to rehabilitate the final two, untouched buildings on the site of the former elevator.
Eight murals will be added to the River Road side of the buildings as part of its effort to make Montrose a better place to live.