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Clarksburg should move forward with downtown revitalization

    Clarksburg City Council was presented with a $9 million renovation plan for the downtown this week. It is our hope that council looks very seriously at the recommendations and, even if it doesn’t follow this particular plan, it does all it can to move forward with revitalization. This may be the downtown’s last best hope.
Battered in recent years by competition from malls and shopping centers, downtown Clarksburg, after several attempts at revitalization, remains a big problem for the city.
    The strategic plan unveiled on Monday by Hammer, Siler, George Associates and MSES Consultants, would demolish a number of eyesores while preserving the city’s architectural heritage. It would add green areas with benches and more lighting and it would increase the number of parking spaces. There is even talk of a walking trail winding its way through the downtown. In short, the recommendations would give people a reason to come downtown.
    The major stumbling block for any revitalization effort will be money. The proposal on the table has an estimated cost of $9 million. Council is going to have trouble finding the necessary funds to carry out such a project. One avenue the city will pursue is an application for a $1 million Small Cities Block Grant.
    We hope this gives city officials an incentive to get creative. It may take public/private partnerships or other state and federal grants.
    We also understand that it will take time. Breathing new life into the downtown may take the best part of a decade. But we hope council moves quickly to at least get the ball rolling.
    In addition, we hope council includes the community in any revitalization project. This is something that cannot be done in a vacuum. Everyone will need to get involved.
    It will not be an easy task, and it will take the cooperation of city officials and the public, along with downtown property owners. But the goal is a revitalized downtown, one that can thrive as it once did. We feel it’s achievable. And it may very well be the last good opportunity to turn things around in the city’s business district. It’s up to us.

Today’s editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which includes William J. Sedivy, John G. Miller, Julie R. Cryser, James Logue, Kevin Courtney and Cecil Jarvis.



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Copyright Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999