By Callie Hietala
Martinsville Uptown Partnership (UP) has announced a bi-weekly Community Engagement Session Series, which is set to hold its first meeting on Monday from 6-7:30 p.m. at the TAD Space, 20 East Church Street, in uptown Martinsville.
The goal of the series is twofold. First, UP will share the recommendations made by the consulting group Downtown Economics on the community-driven Uptown Visioning Project and will then solicit input directly from members of the community—business owners, residents, property owners, and other stakeholders.
According to the announcement of the series, the sessions will provide opportunity for participants to “discuss how we begin to work together as a whole community on the implementation of the community’s revitalization efforts moving forward.”
The recommendations were developed following an extensive community visioning project and revitalization study which included discussions with individuals and groups in Martinsville, Henry County, and even surrounding areas. The results of that study and subsequent recommendations were previously shared in a Zoom meeting with a group of stakeholders and local media, which has generated a great deal of conversation within the community, including several public comments at city council meetings.
Project director Chuck D’Aprix of Downtown Economics and his team recommended branding the city as a hub of entrepreneurship as the pathway to revitalization. That means, he said, that “every decision made by Uptown Partnership should be tethered to the concept of entrepreneurship” and allows for the attraction of new entrepreneurs as well as offering support for existing businesses.
The recommendations included a number of redesigned streetscapes and additional green space, including a large civic park. Team members proposed a number of changes and improvements to the Fayette Street area, including façade improvements and the placement of a multi-story mixed-use commercial building at the corner of Market and Fayette Streets.
The team’s recommendations also included prioritization of historic preservation.
UP Director Kathy Deacon said that a copy of the full report, including data collected and complete explanations of the team’s recommendations, is available at the UP office for anyone interested in diving into it more thoroughly. It will eventually be made available on UP’s website.
Dates for the community engagement sessions are:
Monday, April 11 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the TAD Space (20 East Church Street, Martinsville)
Thursday, April 28 from 12-1:30 p.m., location TBD
Wednesday, May 11 from 6-7:30 p.m., location TBD
Saturday, June 4 from 1-2:30 p.m., location TBD
Though participants are asked to register for the free sessions on Eventbrite, registration is not required to attend. For more information, including the locations of future sessions, visit Martinsville UP on Facebook.