Darren Roberts believes it’s time for Stephenville to be more aggressive and proactive in creating a good atmosphere for the town.
The Stephenville businessman, who is a partner at Kung & Roberts Chartered Professional Accountants, made the comment after listening to a presentation on the Stephenville Downtown Master Plan, presented by Bob Byrnes, president of the Stephenville Downtown Business Improvement Association.
That organization has hired Revitalization and Architects Upland Consultants to focus on creating a strategy for programs and amenities to rejuvenate life in Stephenville’s downtown.
“If we’re (Stephenville) going to be the hub of Southwestern Newfoundland, this is the direction we have to go making Main Street more modernized,” Roberts said.
He said the association has the right people taking the lead on this undertaking.
During his presentation, Byrnes talked about how Main Street had been ignored basically from the closing of the Ernest Harmon Air Force Base at the end of 1966 up to 1994, when the last plan was done for the area.
That plan resulted in things like the installation of interlocking bricks and new street lighting with more than a million and a half dollars put into it over time but he said it was now time for a new vision and that’s why they went with a company with a proven track record.
Byrnes said Upland hasn’t disappointed them and came up with a plan not only welcomed by the association but also got a good review by the Stephenville town council.
He said the feedback to the consultants by business people was great. He said Main Street has a variety of stores but it’s getting more difficult all the time to entice people to get into small business.
Byrnes said one of the suggestions by the consultants was a “sense of arrival” and this will involve putting up signage along the Trans-Canada Highway and entrances of roads leading in from the highway. There is also a new signage plan for Main Street itself.
While the configuration of Main Street is not going to change, there may be some subtle changes with more controlled accesses to wide open lots and the elimination of at least one right hand turn lane.
Byrnes said a real highlight is a Town Centre Square, which will eventually be developed at the space once occupied by 104 Main. Planned for the location is a square with tables, a bandstand and lots of lighting and security cameras to protect the property.
“We can’t give in to people who destroy property,” he said.
Byrnes said during the first year of the 10-year program they are looking at signage, the start of the town square and green landscaping.
In the second to third year, the completion of the town square, traffic flow and possibly controlled access to the Coleman’s parking lot if that business agrees to what’s outlined in the plan.
He said the next thing, of course, is attempting to source the money to proceed.