Main Street program has big impact

By Observer editorial January 13, 2011 03:33 pm
The La Grande Main Street program is making a difference in the city’s downtown.

Building facade improvements, new bike racks and trash receptacles, fresh paint on buildings, colorful hanging flower baskets in the summer and more street trees have all contributed to an enhanced downtown. The program has spawned new life in what had become a lackluster core area.

Charlie Mitchell, the city’s community and economic development director, has been the driving force behind making sure the Main Street program became more than just another concept with good intentions. He’s steered the program since its inception a couple of years ago. He enlisted the support of downtown business and property owners, and he made sure the organization’s structure included volunteers intent
upon doing, not just planning.

Revitalizing downtown will be a lengthy process. Improving aesthetics is the first step, and an ongoing one. The goal, of course, is to draw more businesses and more people to the downtown area. That will happen if people continue to see good things happening there and property/business owners continue to have buy-in to the concept.

Urban Renewal funding has been a driving force for the renovations, but property owners, too, have had to chip in for their building enhancements. Five facade improvements have been completed since July, among them the Maridell Center (formerly the Elks Lodge) and the New Town Square. Four other projects have been approved or are in progress.

Well-designed bike racks and trash receptacles also have made a difference, and they were produced locally by Barreto Manufacturing.

La Grande Main Street is a program that has made and will continue making a difference. Keep up the good work.