The latest reunion of the four-part community engagement sessions hosted by the Uptown Partnership appeared to be much more upbeat than previous sessions.
The meeting was held Saturday at the UP office on Franklin Street. It was followed by around 30 people who filtered in and out.
Participants were invited to move around in different groups, sit down for a 15 minute session, brainstorm and discuss both existing ideas and new ones.
The different groups were the same topics that were discussed in previous meetings as the targeted areas that need improvement around downtown Martinsville: design, promotions, organization and economic vitality.
About 30 residents were asked to go to a committee who spoke to them, then move between the groups or stay with one of them according to their preference.
The design focused on pocket park improvements, improving facades, creating streets for people, the downtown dog park, closing Walnut Street to vehicular traffic, and a downtown amphitheater -town. On the post-its, people wrote: transforming the newly upgraded alley near rue des noyers into an event destination, a healthy initiative, dance venues, hiring design consultants, a dog park, a community garden, increased parking, aggressive revitalization so other businesses can move in and be forced to sell if they don’t, green space, dog park in outlying area bordering downtown, outdoor speakers to play music on Main and Church, two-way streets, a community kitchen, an area with hammocks, helping existing businesses become more successful before starting new ones, revitalizing Hairston Home, a paddling pool for children in front of the municipal building and work on the first impression that people see when coming to Martinsville.
People also read…
Promotions focused on the sculpture trails and mural, performance opportunities, and historic signage. Some of the sticky notes people were able to write on the board listed the following ideas: bringing back the Rives theater, expanding the farmers market, art galleries, connecting with local churches, promoting the speedway and Rooster Walk with art sculptures, art walk through downtown, performance opportunities for a younger population, creation of a concert hall, a comprehensive entertainment venue, modification of art facilities in the city, wine and wine tour beer to historic sites and attractions, nightlife opportunities, downtown trolley for tours, partnership with youth organizations, and an interactive community mural or art project.
Organization focused on the involvement of volunteers so that ideas and discussions can be put in place. Things people wrote on the board included: using the public to spread information such as the Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, charity league, schools, local stores, social clubs, newspapers and Facebook ; publicity with local media; discuss why businesses are closed on Mondays; having a central location for food trucks to meet for a better gathering of people; have local cleanup efforts; hire a local artist; by using the site of the former Théâtre des Rives; be flexible with volunteers who are not always available; and making an Uptown Partnership t-shirt.
Economic vitality focuses on small-scale manufacturing, business attraction, and access to capital mechanisms. On the sticky notes people wrote: a downtown grocery store or market, a place that sells wine, a rooftop bar that takes advantage of the view, a great lunch spot that hopefully is a restaurant, a pedestrian-friendly amphitheater, parking to facilitate and increase traffic, high-quality bars and restaurants, electric car chargers, an art gallery in the extension of Piedmont Arts, two-way streets on Church and Main, more uptown living opportunities, incentive programs, building updates, update old building business owners or sell to new investors who will, community gym for sports tournaments and incentives for people to invest in the community.
At the end of the whole session, everyone gathered in the main room for a general discussion of what they liked about the meeting and for a debriefing.
Barbara Parker said she loved how the meetings were so focused on integrating art into their revitalization efforts.
Mandi and Brian Hundley, the new owners of the Wellness Bar which will open June 18, both talked about having a public interactive art exhibit somewhere in town that would be changed periodically.
Uptown Partnership CEO Kathy Deacon thanked everyone for coming and participating in the Uptown Partnership community meetings.
The second Uptown Partnership Community Meeting featured an interactive survey of interest and disinterest in community improvements in Uptown Martinsville.
What seemed to start as a social event ended on a tense note Wednesday night as the Uptown…
Monique Holland is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at [email protected] or 276-734-9603.