The village of New Richmond is not wasting any time in taking steps to improve the appearance of Front Street.
Two weeks after the kick-off meeting for the New Richmond economic development initiative and one week after forming a neighborhood block watch program, Mayor Terry Durrette said that he is encouraged by the number of community members who have expressed interest.
One such resident is New Richmond life-long community member and economic expert Robert Lees, who addressed council at its July 25 meeting.
According to economic development committee member Ray Perszyk, it was Lee’s speech and presentation at the historic Cranston Church earlier in the year that was the impetus needed to kick-start the village revitalization project.
“Bob Lee’s presentation inspired us to form the economic development committee and get to work on the objectives,” said council member Perszyk. “The initiative is starting to work and we are already making progress, especially on Front Street.”
Lees, after recently purchasing a Front Street property, rented the space to a barber only a short while later.
“Whoever said it was difficult to rent space on Front Street was mistaken,” said Lees. “I bought the building in the early afternoon, and rented it by late afternoon. I am also considering opening up a bed and breakfast upstairs.”
Village Administrator David Kennedy spoke of the other planned improvements on Front Street.
“The village has applied for a community block development grant to construct a 5,000 square foot river overlook deck on Front Street. We will know in mid-August if that money will come to the village or not,” he said.
Considering the flood gauge a deterrent to the economic development of Front Street, council is making plans to relocate or re-paint that as well.
“It is difficult to promote, rent, and sell property and space on Front Street when a person can look behind them and see how high the water has reached in the past,” said Kennedy. “Potential investors immediately assess flood risk.”
The bandstand on Front Street will be receiving a new roof, new downspouts, and flashing gutters to coincide with the start of RiverDays in August.
The Front Street New Richmond National Bank has announced plans to upgrade the front of the building.
Finally, council members have aggressively passed resolutions instructing Village Administrator Kennedy to notify negligent homeowners and absentee slumlords to clean up their properties.
“As you can see, the village is aggressively working on Front Street improvements,” said Durrette. “Our actions are starting to pay off.”