In April 2 IssueBy Kim GrahamTimes Journal Reporter
Last Thursday, the Russell Springs Downtown Revitalization Committee hosted a luncheon for local business leaders to inform them of the effort to breathe new life into downtown Russell Springs and to enlist their support.
"Let us do more than point our fingers in the air and say what we should be doing," said Russell Springs Mayor Hollis DeHart.
Mayor DeHart remembers when downtown Russell Springs was a thriving business district with car dealers, a grocery store, clothing stores and many other merchants.
Today, business has bypassed downtown leaving storefronts empty and leading shoppers elsewhere.
The vision of the Revitalization Committee for downtown is that of a neat Victorian Main St. with flowers in window boxes, decorative street lamps, specialty shops and restaurants. The goal is to make Russell Springs a thriving destination for diners and shoppers.
"This is an opportunity to do something great with this community," said John Carter Director of Russell County Tourism.
Carter said a new event, Pride in Your Ride car show, is scheduled May 9th with plans for the show to be one of many annual events to attract visitors to downtown Russell Springs.
Numerous applications for grant money were available for attendee's perusal including a Paint-the-Town grant, 2 transportation grants for sidewalks on Maple St. and Lakeway Dr. and a grant for a street clock to be placed on Main St.
"We have to start with small steps," said Mayor DeHart.
The mayor outlined the city's efforts to begin downtown renovations by installing decorative street lights, underground electrical wiring and basket weave concrete on Main St.
"We want not only visitors and tourists to be proud of Russell Springs but we also want local residents to take pride in downtown," said Mayor DeHart.
He said to further encourage business growth downtown, the Russell Springs City Council voted to offer two-year city property tax breaks to any business that chooses to locate to Main St.
"It takes community involvement," Mayor DeHart said. "We can't do it without support and enthusiasm from the community. We want your support and ideas."
Mayor DeHart asked area business leaders to join in the commitment to restore vitality to downtown Russell Springs.
Folks in attendance left the meeting with pledge forms to offer monetary support, volunteer commitments and present ideas for the revitalization project.
"We've had a lot of positive response from attendees," said Mayor DeHart. "People see that something needs to be done."