The town of Syracuse and the Syracuse Wawasee Chamber of Commerce are on a fact finding mission to see if merchants in the uptown area are interested in starting the process of joining the Indiana Main Street program.
Surveys were hand delivered Friday, Sept. 28, and as of this morning Tammy Cotton, executive director of the Syracuse Wawasee Chamber of Commerce, said she had a few more to deliver.
Cotton explained while it was too early to determine the boundaries for the Main Street District, she did ask a state representative of the program if the Wawasee Village area could be included. Representatives of the Indiana Main Street program told her no.
“We’re trying to make a positive impact in our town and unfortunately the Village doesn’t qualify (for this program),” Cotton said, noting the program offers grant money for signage, sidewalks and for preservation of historic buildings.
She stressed in no way was the chamber shunning merchants in the Village.
The Indiana Main Street Program has a four point approach involving design, organization, promotion and economic restructuring.
Under design, the program stresses enhancing the physical appearance of the commercial district by rehabilitating historic buildings, encouraging supportive new construction, developing sensitive design management systems and long-term planning.
Under organization, the program stresses building consensus and cooperation among the many groups and individuals involved in the revitalization process. To ensure a self-reliant, broad-based, long-lasting downtown revitalization program, the entire community must rally around the idea.
Cooperation from both the public and private sector is critical to achieve visible results. In addition, a separate staff and business solely dedicated to downtown revitalization is key to achieving long-term, large scale results.
Under economic restructuring the program highlights strengthening the district’s existing economic base while finding ways to expand it to meet new opportunities and challenges from outlying development. Main Street’s ultimate goal is to create downtowns that are economically viable.
Henry DeJulia, town manager, noted it was too early to tell if Syracuse would go forward and form a steering committee, the first step in becoming an Indiana Main Street town. “We just want to see what’s out there,” he said. “Who knows maybe we do nothing. I think its too early to say we’re going to do this, this and this.
“I hope the surveys show us how people feel. We need to see what’s needed,” DeJulia said.
For a more in-depth account of this report, see today’s issue of The Mail-Journal.