Thursday, December 14, 2006

“Capture Who You Are Now,” NC Main Street Advises Clayton Downtown Development Association


NC Main Street’s Director Rodney Swink told the Clayton Downtown Development Association (DDA) at a recent meeting to “capture who you are now and bring that history” into future planning for the downtown district.

He said the downtown’s unique qualities should be preserved as the town moves forward to breathe new life into the area.

Swink attended a recent “orientation meeting,” the first since the town was selected to become part of the NC Main Street Program. Several more meetings and workshops between NC Main Street and the Town are planned between now and the end of June.

Swink provided an overview of the NC Main Street Program and reminded the board that it is, in essence, a self-help program. He also asked DDA members what they expectated from the program. DDA members said they expected to receive fresh ideas from their involvement in the program, as well as ways to help attract new business, and additional private investment in downtown; Guidance in building awareness of downtown and upgrading current assets; Assistance with developing an identity and learning about what pitfalls to avoid and how to overcome many of the obstacles that will certainly present themselves.

“Through technical assistance and the network of other Main Street communities, Main Street will be able to meet many of those expectations,” Swink said.

DDA Member Samantha Muncy, who is also chairperson of the Economic Restructuring Committee said, “I'm very excited about having the knowledge and experience of the Main Street organization behind us. It will be especially beneficial to the committees to have that resource as we try to build a better downtown.”

Swink said Main Street has expectations of the DDA, the Main Street manager and the community, too.

Board members are expected to - be part of a working board, one willing to organize around committees; attend and actively participate in board meetings; participate in training and special activities; take leadership responsibilty for downtown by setting the example for others by actions as well as talk; supporting the technical assistance efforts of the Main Street staff by particpating in meetings when staff is in town; by supporting the downtown manager in his participation in Main Street training, managers’ meetings and special activities.

Main Street Managers are expected to provide professional guidance to their boards, organizations and communities; participate in Main Street training, meetings and special events; be an active member of the downtown development network; keep Main Street staff informed of local issues, problems and successes; respond to Main Street staff requests for survey information, annual statistics and research inquiries; share knowledge when called upon by other communities.

Main Street communities are expected to: commit to a three year partnership with NC Main Street; support the position of the downtown manager; support an organization to guide the local program; accept the Main Street philosophy and approach of econonic development within the context of historic preservation; create a community shared vision for downtown; and develop partnerships and networks, and find the resources to implement the steps to achieve the community vision.

Still to come are a 1-2 day Reconnaisance visit in which Main Street staff will meet individually and confidentially with key merchants, property owners and others to provide an unvarnished view of downtown.

“Picture Downtown” is an activity that involves selected members of the community using disposable cameras to photograph aspects of the downtown that they “like” and “dislike” as a means of developing a record of design issues. The photos are then used in design training and in informing the public about the downtown effort.

That will be followed by a Design Workshop, which will introduce property owners and local officials to the Main Street philosphy of design rehabilitation and the system they use to provide design assistance.

The Community Vision Forum is a process of identifying long term goals and desires for the downtown. Main Street staff will facilitate up to 75 key players from the community through a process of dreaming about the future and establishing some tangible direction for the program. Main Street’s future assistance will be based on the planning and dreaming that takes place at this event.

Following the Community Visioning, either a Resource Team Visit or a charette is next on the list, depending on the need. A Resource Team is a week-long event that allows Main Street staff and selected specialists to assess the community and its downtown and make specific recommendations for program development. A Charette is normally a design-oriented activity intended to stimulate a number of design ideas in a short time. Sometimes both activities are combined to allow multiple issues to be addressed.

DDA Chair, Joyce Blackley said the community will be informed as these events are planned and organized. “We are doing what we can to involve more members of the community in the downtown committees and communicate our activities to the whole community,” she added.

For more information about downtown Clayton’s revitalization efforts call Joyce Blackley at (919) 553-6813 or Downtown Development Coordinator, Bruce Naegelen, at (919) 553-1545 or bnaegelen@townofclaytonnc.org.

1 comment:

starbuckszombie@yahoo.com said...

I would love to be selected as a part of the "Picture Downtown" project and would be willing to take photographs of likes and dislikes as needed. I have lived in Clayton for a year and have been impressed and excited about the efforts of the DDA, Bruce, and many others that are involved to support and grow Clayton while preserving the history. Please contact me at starbuckszombie@yahoo.com if you need people to assist with this project. Thank you!