Recent downtown study brings good news to Cloverdale
CLOVERDALE -- The Town of Cloverdale got some good news on Thursday evening as Hyett Palma presented the community with the results of its downtown survey.
It was a long process, but one that community officials seemed to believe was well worth it.
Doyl Palma of Hyett Palma presented the 74-page document, which included a detailed plan of what action the town should take in hopes of making Cloverdale more vibrant.
"It was well worth it," Palma said. "It's great that it occurred at the time that it did. You did it together. This plan is not only very workable, it's very realistic as well."
Cloverdale was the 24th community to have the survey done by Hyett Palma.
Cloverdale residents and business owners came together to voice concerns on what they would like to see happen with Cloverdale, the main theme filling vacant storefronts and fixing the facades of buildings and homes.
"You're in a phase of transition right now," Palma said. "A wish and a prayer don't work anymore. You've got to set the stage and make the area more appealing for potential investors."
The study came up with five actions for the town to do in order to make improvements possible: Continue enhancing public spaces, improving the appearance of private properties, looking at Cloverdale as a stage, strengthening existing business and marketing downtown.
The first step, which will soon begin, includes adding some much-needed landscaping. Some property owners have already made the commitment to add planters and hanging baskets.
"It will be beautiful if they're well maintained," Palma said. "It's a very affordable approach."
The town also be working with the Park Board and will be approaching the Clove-rdale FFA to help with the maintenance.
Palma also suggested that Town Hall undergo major landscaping, something Clerk-Treasurer Cheryl Galloway had suggested in the past. Along, with the landscaping it was suggested that something historic, such as a clock, be put out front.
Along with landscaping, it was suggested some routine issues that had fallen through the cracks get addressed. Streetlight posts need to be repainted along with the crosswalks and parking spaces.
New benches and trash cans are also something that should be added to help the appeal of downtown. Palma even suggested adding new parking signs in the future, stating that parking is free to customers.
"Don't overlook the small things," Palma said.
One major point that Palma stressed to the community, is that the town does not have a parking problem.
Secondly, the town needs to focus on improving the appearance of private properties, many of which have become run down.
"Think in terms of overall projection," Palma said. "Pick a color pallet and distribute them to the community. It will make an awful lot of difference."
In order to make this possible, Palma suggested trying to get paint donated as well as having volunteers to help with the effort.
"Get a small amount of people to do it and then the peer pressure kicks in," he noted.
Along with painting the exteriors of buildings, the town also needs to clean up its signs in front of businesses, get rid of items that are no longer used such as the phone both, clean up empty lots as well as paving gravel lots.
Next, the town needs to look at Cloverdale as a stage, meaning the town should have more events.
By having events, the town draws more visitors, which brings in more income. It was suggested that Cloverdale start to have annual events to create tradition.
"It's a good time for the community to come together," Palma said. "Make it a unique experience."
All events should be family events such as a movie night and live music festivals.
The town also needs to strengthen existing businesses. Palma believes that all businesses need to have the motto of "Offer quality products, quality service in a quality environment."
Many members of the community said they were looking for new restaurants and café's to be brought into Cloverdale that were smoke- and alcohol-free. Palma agreed with the smoke-free environment, however he stated that no restaurant would work without alcohol.
To strengthen the local businesses it was suggested that the town work together with such places as the Ivy Tech Business and Entrepreneurial Services Center and the Small Business Development Center.
Palma also took time to address the issue of the Police Department. He stated that although downtown is probably the safest place in the community, when the time comes, more officers need to be hired.
"I'm sure due to budgetary reasons many of them were let go," he said. "At the time you can afford it, you need to put those people back."
Finally, after the town has had some time to get on its feet. There needs to be an increase in marketing, which includes brochures as well as a website.
"Assign someone to write one positive thing a week (about the town)," Palma said. "You also need a shop-local initiative. Local businesses produce funds for the town."
Palma said when the process of revitalizing the downtown Cloverdale area is complete, the area needs to be talked up constantly. Brochures should be provided to hotels and social media needs to be utilized.
When this plan is initiated and is running like a well-oiled machine, it was stressed that the town not call chain restaurants, but to try and find a more local restaurant and see if they'd be willing to expand.
"Chain stores know more about you then you'll ever know about yourself," Palma said. "No cold calls. The times are changing, don't turn new entrepreneurs away."
Although the town should work together on this project as a whole, it was suggested that Main Street lead the effort. There should be a diverse group of people representing the project.
"Take this energy and focus as much as you can on Main Street," Palma said. "Industry knows the importance of a good downtown. This is not a static document; it should be a living one. Don't let these opportunities slip through the cracks."