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Commission suggests Boonsboro Council adopt revitalization plan

July 15, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Boonsboro Economic Development Commission on Monday voted to recommend the Boonsboro Town Council adopt a consultant's report containing ways to revitalize the downtown, including having the downtown listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A listing would give financial incentives to some of the property owners, Town Manager John Kendall said.

Frederick, Md., has benefited economically from highlighting its historic character to draw visitors, the consultant's report said.

The commission, which met Monday, decided to officially present the final draft of the report to the council at its Aug. 5 meeting.

The commission will give direction to the council about what changes should be implemented and when, commission Chairman Erik Johnsson said.

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The town has used its funds plus a $25,000 state grant to pay for a $49,100 contract with consultant Mary Means & Associates Inc. of Alexandria, Va.

Mary Means and others from her consulting firm have met with government and business representatives, as well as with residents, to talk about how the downtown could be improved. Local residents and property owners have attended meetings and public hearings on the consultant's suggestions.

"We want to keep the momentum going," Johnsson said. "The worst thing that can be done is to let this thing languish."

The consultant suggested the exteriors of downtown businesses be beautified. Commission members said some downtown businesses already have started doing that and the hope is that others will follow suit.

The consultant's suggestions to improve the area include:

  • Discourage new residential developments in the town center.

  • Encourage locally owned dining establishments.

  • Create a downtown parking management plan.

  • Capitalize on Boonsboro's existing resources, such as the Turn the Page Bookstore, which is owned by the husband of best-selling romance novelist Nora Roberts. The bookstore draws a crowd when Roberts has book signings, and the town might want to try book signings there for authors of books about the Civil War.

  • Hold Boonsboro events linked to other regional events, such as the re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam.

  • Highlight Boonsboro's role in the Civil War through an online or printed brochure.

  • Turn some one-way streets into two-way streets, reducing the possibility of confusing visitors.

  • Create crosswalks to encourage a safe environment for walking.

  • Develop a program, such as a revolving loan fund, to help businesses pay for facade improvements.
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