A year ago, the city of Millwood sponsored a community celebration to observe the completion of a multi-million dollar improvement project along Argonne Road.
Next week, the event will take to the street again – only this time the emphasis will be less on pavement than patronage.
The Millwood Better for Business group launched the festivities known as “Taking Back Our Streets” on Aug. 29 last year as a way to acknowledge a $1.3 million facelift of the north/south arterial that runs through the center of town. The upgrade included a refurbished road surface, new sidewalks and ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
For Millwood storeowners like Greg Mott of The Corner Door, the renovation has meant an increase in foot traffic for businesses in the city’s historic district.
“It’s made a big difference,” said Mott. “You see people walking along the street again.”
The city of Millwood contributed some of its own funds – nearly $27,000 by the end of the project – to ensure that additional sidewalk improvements would be included in the work. While Argonne continues to be a well-traveled thoroughfare for thousands of motorists each day, Millwood Mayor Dan Mork said certain changes – such as curb extensions that slow down traffic and improve safety for pedestrians – have contributed to Argonne becoming more of a main street and less of a superhighway.
Meanwhile, joggers, cyclists and walkers – as well as local residents who utilize wheelchairs – are able to travel south of Euclid on sidewalks that have replaced ruddy dirt paths.
“Argonne is coming back,” Mork said. “We’ve had a lot of positive comments.”
The timeline for civic merriment this year has moved up a week under the banner of “Millwood Days” and will include a 5K Wellness Run through Millwood neighborhoods starting at 9 a.m., a pancake breakfast at the Masonic Temple, participation by businesses on Argonne Road and a movie – “Babe, the Gallant Pig,” at 8:15 p.m. to be shown on the side of a semi-truck. All events will take place at various points along Argonne Road.
Last year’s 5K run included over 300 participants and utilized proceeds from the race fee to benefit the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society. This year, the money raised from the run will go toward the West Valley Education Foundation.
One of the participants in the jaunt through Millwood’s tree-lined streets will be Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed. Later in the day, Reed will honor Millwood’s best known commercial site – the Inland Empire Paper mill – with a salute from Olympia recognizing the company’s 100-year anniversary of incorporation. Shirene Young, a spokeswoman for the mill, said there are plans to include some sort of centennial exhibit in front of the plant on Argonne as well as displays chronicling the various uses of paper.
Other businesses along Millwood’s central drive will be part of the agenda next Saturday. As opposed to last year, when attendees qualified for prizes by receiving a punch on a card each time they visited a store, tickets will be handed out at participating locations with awards announced throughout the day.
Mott said the day provides a showcase for the changing commercial climate in the historic district.
“We think the quality of our businesses is improving,” he said.
The shift includes new exterior paint in some cases and once abandoned spaces being occupied by recent additions like the Millwood Gallery which opened in May. The gallery on Euclid Road, a half block off Argonne, will host the inaugural Millwood ArtFest – featuring displays by local artists and live music – to coincide with the festivities next Saturday.