A Look Ahead: Greenville tackles Main Street

  • A group of residents has been working towards the revitalization of Greenville since 2017. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

By ASHLEY SAARI
Published: 1/8/2020 8:27:57 PM

Editor’s note: This is one of several A Look Ahead 2020 stories we are running this week in which we take a look at what 2020 has in store for our coverage area.

In 2017, Greenville residents met in a vision forum to discuss how to revitalize their town – particularly the Main Street. Since, progress has been slow, but a core group of volunteers is still working to make changes happen.

“We want to see a miracle, that’s what we want to see,” said Economic Development Committee Chair Rick Miller.

Miller said townspeople have been discouraged by efforts to bring Greenville’s Main Street back to life by seeing several promising efforts sputter – including the recent attempt to open a Portuguese cuisine restaurant, a diner and a pizza place, all of which only had short-lived stays on Main Street, and other retail spaces which have sat on the market for long periods of time.

“I think a lot of people have been looking for a revitalization,” said Heather Schoff of Greenville, the town’s Recreation Director, who has been participating in the economic development discussions. “We’ve actually got a downtown, which not everyone has. And there’s just a lot of wasted spaces. A lot of empty stalls that could have something in there.”

And the dream isn’t impossible, Schoff said. There was once a time the downtown was a profitable place to do business.

The Economic Development Committee is attempting to make it that way again, by talking to the stakeholders – the businesses already surviving in Greenville.

Twice this year, the Committee has invited 30 of the town’s businesses to participate in a round table discussion to talk about what hurdles there are to making their business successful, to try to come up with a plan to address them.

But there’s no easy fixes, Miller said.

Businesses brought up issues like a lack of parking, restrictive zoning, and high taxes, none of which can be addressed quickly or easily, Miller said. Though the committee has discussed ways to resolve some of those issues, there’s not a clear answer.

Another part of the problem is the lack of town unity.

Schoff said if there was a downtown draw, and better curbside appeal, it would be easier for businesses to draw upon the pool of regular residents. Several buildings downtown are in disrepair, their condition unaddressed by the building’s owners or renters.

Schoff said changes downtown don’t need to be enormous right off the bat. But even small changes can have a ripple effect, she said.

“It doesn’t take much. Pick up a rake and put out a flowerpot. It will trickle. I think if people stop having a negative mindset of ‘It’s too big of a job, I can’t do it,’ it will have a big impact,” Schoff said.

Entering the new decade, the Economic Development Committee does have plans to continue their work. They will be launching a webpage geared towards new business owners in town to help them navigate the approval process, with information on town contacts.

They are also looking for opportunities to fund a town sign on Route 31, which would have a changeable letter board to direct passersby downtown.

The Recreation Department has been discussing how to create a more attractive park at Town Field, including improving playground equipment and building a pavilion, as well as building up town festivals and holiday events.

“We have so much potential,” Schoff said. “And I think we’re on the right track.”

The Economic Develop ment Commi ttee is schedu  le d to meet next on Jan. 28 in the Town Hall  at 6:30 p.m.

    Ashley Saari ca n be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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