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franklin county times

Russellville puts focus on redevelopment

In an open-to-the-public meeting Feb. 22, Mayor David Grissom and the Redevelopment Committee revealed the next phase for Russellville: becoming a Network Community with Main Street Alabama.

As a Network Community, for a $300 annual fee with the option to purchase additional services, Russellville will have access to a slate of training, consultation and other resources provided by Main Street, such as revitalization workshops, email communications and networking opportunities.

Main Street Alabama President Mary Helmer was on hand to present Main Street, explaining its mission and answering questions. She said the time is ripe for downtown redevelopment as people begin to reject the “vanilla” experience of highway strip malls.

“They’re looking for something unique and different, and guess what? That’s your downtown,” Helmer said. “It’s a great time for you to be looking at what you can do in your downtown.”

Grissom said he is optimistic about Russellville’s opportunities to move forward, aided by the partnership with Main Street Alabama.

“They’re the experts in the field,” Grissom said. “They’ve got a lot of great resources.” After he attended a Main Street workshop in Montgomery last year, Grissom said he “could tell they have a good plan. They’ve worked with cities all over the state that have been very successful.”

Grissom and the redevelopment committee are currently working with Nathan Willingham with NACOLG to determine next actionable steps, which might include laying out official boundaries for the downtown district to be able to move forward to look at zoning and codes.

“Main Street’s a way of life. It’s not a five-year program,” Helmer said.

Although redevelopment will be an in-depth process, Grissom said it’s a needed step for the city.

“When we started this thing, I knew it wouldn’t be an overnight deal,” he said. “Most people probably wouldn’t take this on, but if we don’t do it, it might not ever get done. I’m excited for our future. I think it’ll be good.”

For more information on Main Street Alabama, visit www.mainstreetalabama.org.