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Concerns in downtown Portage focus on how to bring it back to life and the lack of parking.

I remember when the downtown boomed; every store for blocks was filled. On Friday nights, the whole community shopped and parking was never an issue. Now there are few stores, fewer shoppers and I see empty stalls.

The main issue I see is a lack of shops offering a variety of items and an aging population that has three of everything. The older people are trying to downsize.

Box stores assumed the place of the department store, shoe stores, hardware store, dime stores and the rest that made a downtown thrive.

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Without a downtown grocery, variety store, discount store or hardware store, I see nothing to pull me to shop. Most of what I now shop for is groceries, pet supplies and other disposable items that run out. Younger adults are looking for the hot items and technology items.

How will downtown Portage pull people to shop there again with Madison nearby and the internet? The places I shop are not available or open downtown.

Want me downtown? Give me a good old department store again.

Karen Warner-Snyder, Portage

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