Boonville preps for changes in 2013

Lindsay CravenStaff Writer

January 15, 2013

The new year is shaping up to bring some big changes for Boonville.

With the redevelopment of the Greater Boonville Business Association in the last three years and the help of the Boonville Downtown Development Committee the town is on track to see some projects meant to better the downtown area.

The town has already shown its efforts toward more community involvement with the addition of a Christmas parade to the 2012 annual tree lighting ceremonies. The Greater Boonville Business Association was the driving force behind the project and with its success the organization is eager to continue its forward motion.

“I think the long range goal is to have small businesses in town open during events like our Christmas parade and tree lighting so that people can walk around the streets of Boonville and visit those businesses and look at what they have and make some purchases,” said Tommy Jester, president of the Greater Boonville Business Association. It’s a process and we’ve made great strides I think but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

The biggest project the town is looking forward to is a water line to the town from Jonesville.

Bonnie Lasky, Boonville Downtown Development Committee Chair, said that the town has already received the support of the county in their water line endeavor and has progressed to the next step, which will require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to come in and assist the town with it’s application for the line.

“I think the water project is huge for us,” Jester said. “It’s something that really needs to be done. Most businesses when they are looking to expand or relocate want to know if there is water and sewer available and I think that’s important for our development.”

The town is also working on improving its image for commuters that pass through each day or on the weekends.

“The façade improvements we’ve made in town have been huge,” Jester said. “We want the town to be appealing when people drive through. We’re encouraging our businesses and residents to make their places of home and business appealing so that when people drive through they want to come back.”

Through the help of funds acquired by the STEP Committee the town was able to purchase new street lamps that fit in with the town’s nostalgic look. The street lights will line the downtown area along Highway 67. The installation of the lights is already underway and is expected to be completed by the spring.

The town has also been working closely with the Yadkin Valley Heritage Corridor on several projects. The first will be banners that will be hung from electric posts along Main Street. One side of the banner will feature a “Welcome to Boonville “message with an image of wine barrels while the opposite side will feature the Yadkin Valley Heritage Corridor’s name and website address.

“It’s been all about partnerships that have never been pursued before,” Lasky said. “I think that has been a big accomplishment of the STEP program.”

The town has also used STEP committee funds to revamp the park located off Park Street alongside the Main Street area. The park had become overgrown and wasn’t accessible to residents so Jeff Jones, Boonville’s Director of Public Works, came up with a vision for what he wanted to see at the park and made it happen.

The project was completed in November 2012 and now features a gravel track and newly built bridges to provide a safe walking track for residents and visitors. Now the town is looking towards purchasing playground equipment and picnic tables to make the park more family friendly and making repairs to the existing shelter to make it safer or more attractive.

The final, and most visible, addition to the town will be a wayfinding kiosk that will be on Rusty Crissman’s property beside Boonville Flower and Décor. The kiosk is another project that is a joint effort between Boonville and the Yadkin Valley Heritage Corridor.

Once it’s finished it will feature a stone and stucco finish and two sides will house maps: one for points of interest in Boonville, the other with points of interest for the Corridor. The remaining sides of the kiosk will feature holders for businesses to place brochures and information.

“I feel like the economy is starting to rebound a little bit so we’re trying to emphasize traffic to the wineries and places like that because that’s going to bring people into town,” Jester said.

This project is expected to be complete within the next two months and will be funded by a $21,000 grant obtained by the STEP committee. Any additional costs from the kiosk will be covered by Crissman.

As the town continues to work towards making Boonville a destination where people want to stop and visit Jester says that the Greater Boonville Business Association is always looking for new business owners to join and help them come up with ways to improve the town.

“We had the Downtown Business Association going on for a while there but the numbers started to dwindle and it just fizzled out,” Jester said. “I think with the progress of the STEP Committee it rekindled people’s interest in the DBA. I think people realized that if the businesses get behind it and support it then I think it helps the town board help to make better decisions.”

Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at lcraven@civitasmedia.com.