Bassett needed to improve its streets, sewers, water mains, curbs and gutters. Located in Rock County in north central Nebraska, Bassett (pop. 681) lies along Highway 20. The downtown is the first area that travelers see when they enter town, and the community wanted to enhance its appearance. In 2001, the city applied for and received a $249,500 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to help finance needed improvements. The grant, along with revenue from sales tax and general funds were used to install a larger water main, improve a storm sewer, construct new curbs and gutters, and repave and level of the sidewalks and streets. New light posts were installed along the sidewalks, with a grant from the Nebraska Department of Roads.
A 1995 needs assessment survey indicated the need for street improvements. To make the necessary repairs, the city purchased milling and surfaced the dirt streets within the city. Before Bassett received its CDBG to make the needed repairs, the concrete was uneven and broken, the curbs were too high, sidewalks were not handicap accessible, street gutters were not properly aligned, and storm water drained improperly. Many people were involved in this project’s success, including the mayor, city clerk, economic development coordinators, and chamber of commerce officials. During the construction phase, one of the city’s goals was to minimize disruption to the downtown shop owners and traffic pattern. The citizens of Bassett made a special effort to frequent the shops and restaurants during that period.
Since the improvements were made, there appears to be more traffic in the downtown area and the 2003 Christmas season was one of the best according to the retail community. City Clerk Korla Keller said, “I feel that the citizens of Bassett are proud of the appearance of their downtown and they are eager to show off their community to friends and family. I’ve seen many residents walking in the area who previously didn’t do so before the project was completed.”
With the help of organizations, such as the Bassett/Rock County Chamber of Commerce, CDBG funds administered through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the Nebraska Department of Roads grant and the JEO Consulting Group, the city of Bassett now boasts of new sidewalks, curbs and gutters, storm sewers and improved streets. The citizens of Bassett are proud of the new infrastructure and look of their community. And as travelers pass through on Highway 20, they can sense the pride that emanates from the community.