Thursday, June 4, 2009

You Can Help Redesign Our Downtowns

It was my pleasure to finally meet Larry during the weekend.

You see, several years ago Larry developed a series of drawings of how downtown Fonthill could look. In essence, he used a standard theme and drew new facades on each of the buildings of the day.

What happened with the drawings and his vision? They became a rallying cry for people who wanted to see a more standard and beautified downtown.

But, quite frankly, not much else happened with the drawings. Until now, that is.

Now, I’m pleased to let you know that through the leadership of this Council, the Town is ready for that vision. We are also ready for the strategies to make design guidelines happen.


It began with a community meeting regarding Pelham’s downtowns that Council and I called in the spring of 2007. At that meeting, an ad hoc, community-based committee was established to move the issues forward. Shortly thereafter, those citizens approached Council to become an official Town committee; Council agreed and established the Downtown Beautification Committee.

As I have written here before, that Committee has actively advanced beautification of our downtowns by encouraging Council to undertake and develop a Community Improvement Plan (CIP). Through assessment adjustments and grant incentives, this CIP will encourage property owners to upgrade their properties.

Council also set aside funds – up to $50,000 – for incentives for property-owners to beautify their properties in designated areas. This final CIP report could be adopted by Council as early as July.

But, in what way should downtown property-owners improve their properties and buildings? What should those improvements look like? And, how do you ensure that improvements follow a certain look and feel?

We need your help to do that. That’s why I am writing to invite you and your neighbours to participate in three workshops to help form special Design Guidelines and strategies for our downtowns. These guidelines will “provide an urban design vision and guidance for the Downtowns by addressing the nature, intensity and quality of development in both the public and private realms.”

The workshops will run from 6:30 PM on June 9 at Town Hall, and on June 10 and 11 at Old Town Hall. Please check the following link for further details:

Whether it’s Larry’s vision or your vision, I hope you can participate in the workshops and help Pelham’s downtowns become beautified and revitalized.