Downtown revitalization highlighted during "Taste Of Linton"
Residents got a 'taste' of Linton's culinary offerings and a quick taste of the Indiana Main Street in a meeting Wednesday night at the Roy Clark Community Center.
A variety of vendors offered samples of chicken wings, pizza, shrimp cocktail, fried fish, salad, chili, cheese cake, cheese balls, deli meats, homemade crackers with ranch dressing, cakes, dessert breads and more.
Vendors included: The Daily Dish, Sportsman's Pub, Long John Silvers, Pizza Hut, Goose Pond Pizza, Baesler's Market, Greene County General Hospital, the City of Linton and Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerce.
The meeting also showcased discussion of the proposed revitalization plan for downtown Linton as part of the Indiana Main Street program.
The public meeting was one of the application components required of the Main Street program and also served as a means to solicit volunteers to serve on committees for the Four-Point Main Street program including: Organization, Design, Promotion and Economic Restructuring.
Linton Mayor John Wilkes said a steering committee for the revitalization project ---- named Discover Downtown Linton ---- was formed four or five months ago and has been busy planning the application for Indiana Main Street.
Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerce is the lead agency for the city's application because of their not-for-profit status.
He says the time is right for the city to participate.
"People want things together in close proximity of each other," the mayor said of his belief that there will be a resurgence of the downtown business community.
The designated "downtown area" will include a 16-block area bounded by C St. NE to C St. SE and 3rd St. SE to 3rd St. NW, according to Wilkes.
"We've got a lot of things going on right now," Wilkes said in reviewing several multi-million dollar projects like the wastewater treatment plan improvements; the $6.5 million Cine' Theater apartment project; the $8 million expansion at Greene County General Hospital; a $500,000 upscale condo development on the city's northwest side; and $2 million school renovation project.
"There is a lot of money and a lot of things going on now in Linton right now. We want to continue to do that and I really appreciate all of the people who are getting involved in the community. One or two people can't do it," Wilkes said.
The mayor asked for more citizens to get involved.
"If there is a committee that strikes your fancy that you'd like to get involved with to help the city of Linton, we would really appreciate it," Wilkes stressed.
The steering committee meets the second Tuesday each month at noon in the Carnegie Heritage and Arts Center. Lunch is traditionally provided.
Shae Kmicikewycz, who serves as program manager for the Indiana Main Street program, addressed the gathering and gave a 'taste' of what the community can expect from the program.
"This is awesome to see all of these businesses here (offering samples)," she said.
She pointed out that times changing in downtown areas across the state.
Due to the rise of shopping malls and mega-sized department stores, Kmicikewycz said, "Our downtowns will never be like they were in the 40s and 50s."
Indiana Main Street (IMS) was established to provide economic revitalization and professional assistance to participating communities. IMS encourages the revitalization and restoration of downtown areas in Indiana cities and towns.
IMS operates out of the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, which is overseen by the Lt. Governor's office.
Grants and other forms of assistance is available to participating communities.
Madison, IN was one of the first three Main Street communities in the nation to try this new approach to economic revitalization.
Presently, there are 122 Indiana Main Street communities ranging in size from Patriot, IN with a population of 201 to the state capitol city of Indianapolis.
The town of Bloomfield recently joined the Main Street Program late last year.
Linton was formerly designated an Indiana Main Street community in the late 1990s, but let participation linger.
Under the program, the city was able to attain a $1 million grant that was used to renovate sidewalks and install historic-looking streetlights along the downtown business district.
The Main Street program provides one-on-one technical assistance to participating communities when needed.
Among the many improvements to enhance the appearances of downtown area, the Main Street program directs communities through the process of planting flowers and trees, erecting banners, improving facades, installing decorative trash cans and street benches. They help organize clean up days and work with Indiana Landmark organization to renovate a building. They also can provide guidance on how to utilize vacant building as a temporary site for a small homespun business or an art gallery or a craft shop.
"We can also provide assistance on how to keep businesses here in the community. That could be workshops," she said.
The most important committee is the one that works on how will these projects be funded, Kmicikewycz said.
There is no set formula for what will work in a specific community, but one of the advantages of the program is the ability to network with the other participating cities and towns and glean ideas from them to what has worked for them, she added.
Kmicikewycz said if the city continues at its current pace, they should be able to file the formal application and get it approved by the fall.