The Village of Elwood (pop. 707) is the county seat in Gosper County where the courthouse and county offices are located. As a central location for the county and surrounding areas, it is an important hub, and when faced with obstacles, Elwood bands together to find ways to fix problems.
Even before receiving a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for a Downtown Revitalization (DTR) project, Elwood demonstrated a dedication to improving its community space when, in 2009, it received CDBG funds to rebuild the local library so that it was more accessible and up-to-date. The library was relocated next to the village office and Gosper County Senior Center, thus making it more centrally and easily accessible. Additionally, before filing a 2011 application for DTR funds, Elwood community members banded together to rehabilitate and reopen a local grocery store after it had recently closed. These efforts preceding the undertaking of DTR activities demonstrate just how active Elwood residents have been in its development. The Elwood downtown project benefited 278 people, 142 of which are low-to-moderate income persons (51.08% LMI).
About the same time the library was built and the market was rehabilitated, Elwood applied for a DTR grant to develop a plan for renovating its downtown. This successful application resulted in a plan that won awards at the state planning/zoning conference. After completion of the DTR plan, Elwood was successfully awarded second-phase funding under the DTR program, allowing the Village to implement certain features of their plan. These implementations complemented the recent additions of the new library and market. The project activities were funded for $350,000 from CDBG and matched with $230,518 from the community.
The commercial rehabilitation of 15 downtown buildings was one component. New roofs, windows and doors, new awnings, and new paint and facades significantly improved the downtown area in Elwood. This was combined with a sidewalk project that replaced broken and cracked sidewalks, increasing access to these downtown buildings. The final piece of the downtown revitalization project, the creation of a multipurpose gathering space, was completed in December 2014. The space is enclosed with brick pillars and black wrought iron fencing and boasts tables, benches, and an attractive place for senior citizens to gather near their building. The whole community of Elwood has gained a place to gather, whether for their old-fashioned Christmas celebration, a summer picnic, or just to relax. This gathering area completes the aesthetic of the center of Elwood, with the senior center, village office, and new library and grocery store, representing a significant growth for the community of Elwood.