Getting serious with revitalization

Darrell Cole
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AMHERST - Amherst is about to get serious with revitalizing its downtown core.

The town is considering a closer working relationship with the Cumberland Regional Economic Development Association and the Downtown Amherst Revitalization Society to look for ways to attract new businesses and people to the downtown.

"Basically we are looking at putting our minds together and coming up with what I call a downtown site development plan," CREDA's executive director Rhonda Kelly said Wednesday. "It would look at everything from downtown parking, to traffic circulation through to building usage and architectural guidelines and beyond."

Kelly appeared before town council's committee-of-the-whole meeting earlier this week to brief council on some of the activities already underway and to talk about some of the options that could be considered.

Downtown revitalization was identified in January as one of the town's seven priorities for the coming year.

The question of how to improve the downtown is not a new one and it's an issue that came up several times during last fall's municipal election campaign with voters asking the candidates what they plan to do to bring people back to the downtown.

In 2007, Daniel Allain from Downtown Moncton-Centre Ville Inc. suggested the Moncton Miracle can be repeated here if all the segments of the community work together to develop a vision. That could be an option for Amherst.

"We want to do everything we can to explore every opportunity to work collaboratively to strengthen and enhance the downtown core as a key attraction piece and a viable entity," she said. "We'll be looking at image enhancement and creating that climate that conducive to business and visitors."

Beth Munroe, who operates Pugsley's Pharmacy and Mrs. Pugsley's Emporium, is welcoming the potential opportunity to work with the town and CREDA towards a common goal.

"We need the help of the town and the help of CREDA and we all need to be moving forward and looking at the possibilities, not just for today, but for future enhancements and strategic planning," said Munroe, who is the chair of DARS.

She said DARS is looking for a strategy that has a vision of what the downtown may look like 20 years from now while addressing present concerns as well.

Kelly cautioned there will be challenges, but it's very important that it's done and she applauded the town for setting that as a priority.

"When you're looking for new businesses and new people to come live in your community you have to be fairly competitive. The Town of Amherst does have a lot going for it in setting out its strategic priorities. They have some

great infrastructure in great schools, a new hospital and a variety of types of residential neighbourhoods," Kelly said. "Where they hope to go with the Arts, Culture and Heritage priority is also key. It is this type of activity which can set one community apart from the others - particularly in a global context."

Organizations: Cumberland Regional Economic Development Association, Downtown Amherst Revitalization Society, Downtown Moncton-Centre Ville

Geographic location: AMHERST

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Recent comments

  • J
    January 18, 2010 - 11:21

    good one fuzzy, those smoking timmies folks and those people who hang downtown if only we could get rid of that eye sore. here's an idea move the courts and doctors office outside of town!! enact a by-law that you can't be on the streets for more than 15 minutes if your income is below 15000 grand a year. that ought to solve the problem of seeing fellow human beings that we find gross.

    as for revitalizing the downtown, that's been ongoing for the last 30 years. perhaps yet another mural to revitalize the downtown core...

    I wait with baited breath for whatever it is they plan on revitalizing.

  • To get real
    January 18, 2010 - 11:15

    Correction Get real, these same people have not been saying that for 20 years, as these people have not been there for the last 20 years.

    If they can manage to change the way global trends have gone, taking away from the downtown cores, good on them!

  • Get
    January 18, 2010 - 11:03

    Getting serious about downtown revitalization? What the downtown will look like 20 years from now? HUH?

    These same people were telling us exactly the same thing 20 YEARS AGO.

    So, based on these statements, after 40 years of hard labour the downtown is going to be revitalized?

    I can hardly wait.

  • Fuzzy
    January 18, 2010 - 11:03

    Hummmmmmmm JJ if your implying that these people are waiting to go to court or see a doctor then you need to park there and watch them a little closer.... better yet.... as the song says Just walk on by, wait on the corner , and you'll soon be ankle deep in butts.
    This is not anyone's waiting room it is a smokers meet and greet location period. Doesn't matter where they are going, where they been or how much they make but the outcome of their visit sure is obvious.

  • Don
    January 18, 2010 - 10:52

    It is very good to see that people believe in the Town still. Amherst has gone through some difficult times and there are several issues that are an ongoing draw-back for the community. One of these is the Environmental wasteland of the old, iron/munitions works just to the South West of the downtown area. Current funding capability from Federal and Provincial governments for infrastructure enhancement should be laid claim to for cleaning up this area. The central district of downtown Amherst can be totally revamped with a core development of a Community College Campus, new Police and Community Services building and an overhaul of parking layout. Money is always available for such projects and these are amortized over time. One has to recognize the value of the dollars spent in view of net present value (NPV) verses results obtained. It is not the purely objective Return on Investment of the core development that needs to be calculated here it is the unlimited potential of the subjective aspects of Return on Investment, Community spirit and pride, convenience, publicity, security and the yes we can attitude that brings in new investment dollars, business and citizens with more revitalization energy. What it takes to make it happen is clear vision, broad based Community support and the ability of a dedicated set of like-minded individuals to take ownership of the Project. Go for it.

  • Fuzzy
    January 18, 2010 - 10:51

    What a great plan and idea to revitalize the downtwn core...........whoever came up with that idea??? I don't know why it hasn't been thought of and acted on before!!
    Now on a serious note in my humble opinion Rhonda is just the person who may make some action finally happen on this long overdue project. We have one of the most scenic and historical downtowns in all of Nova Scotia and to not exploit that resource is a cultural shame.
    However all the paint, murals, cobbled stones, hanging decorations etc will not take away the first eyesore that everyone sees downtown and that is the daily smoking crew out in front of Timmies.
    Rhonda before you spend a buck on anything tackle this issue first and then maybe you will have a great canvas to paint your masterpiece.
    Regardless good luck!!

  • James
    January 18, 2010 - 10:39

    I would like to say the town's admistration led by Mayor Small are doing a great job so far. There are fresh ideas aplenty and its great they are trying to add to the work the previous administrations started (good and bad) and I think we will benefit from their efforts.

  • Icy
    January 18, 2010 - 10:33

    I'm with you, Fuzzy! That corner is disgusting.

    Here's an idea - if people will just go ahead and buy those darn condomuniums, we'll inject 32 couples into the downtown area with money to spend, and the power of their dollars alone will spur development.