In just three years, downtown Elon may look a lot different.
Town of Elon Manager Richard White announced at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting that the town’s application for the Downtown Associate Community Program was successful. The program, part of the North Carolina Main Street program, is designed to help selected municipalities revitalize downtown strips over a three-year process.
“Our first visit with the N.C. Main Street staff is Sept. 24,” White said. “They’ll help us out with the whole process and will be with us all day to plan things. We’re excited about that.”
The program will make the Town of Elon’s “Downtown Elon Master Plan” easier to implement. The plan intends to overhaul the downtown area by increasing the number of retail, commercial and residential buildings, as well as add more green spaces.
“The program’s work is based on four principles: organization, design, economic restructuring and promotion.” White said. “With these principles, we’re going to look at downtown and create a strategic planning process that will help us move forward with our efforts there.”
Alderman Davis Montgomery added that becoming a part of the program wasn’t a guarantee for Elon.
“They didn’t accept everyone into this program,” he said. “It was a competitive process. Initially, there were seven towns, and then it was narrowed down to four, including Elon.”
More opportunities to improve downtown Elon were also discussed at the meeting. Alderman John Petersonsaid the town’s membership in the state council of government, combined with an economic development designation from the state Department of Commerce, allows Elon to be eligible for development grants.
“That’s something we might want to put in our bag of tricks as we think about downtown development and other economic development initiatives,” Peterson said. “There is federal money there that is not used annually that we are eligible for.”
According to Peterson, it's important to gauge feedback from town residents throughout the process. He said a presentation made at a Council of Government meeting in August pointed out that every day of the year has a holiday attached to it, which can help market towns that market those holidays well.
“August was actually the international pedestrian safety month,” he said. “With all that we have going on with sidewalks and students here, we have good opportunities to spread awareness and make something out of that. That might be something to look at for next year.”
As for events closer on the calendar, Alderman Mark Greene said Slade Park and the fire station on Powerline Road are the sites for “Movies on the Lawn” on Sept. 18 and Oct. 2, respectively. Before the Oct. 2 showing, the Elon Police Department and Elon Fire Department will go through a safety presentation.
“It’s open to the public,” Greene said. “It’s basically for safety awareness and getting to know the police and fire departments better.”