Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

October 1, 2008

CITY OF LOCKPORT: Downtown challenged to put 'Main St.' over the top

The city’s community development director has issued a challenge to downtown businesses.

Bill Evert says he’ll pitch in $100 of his own money for every $5,000 they contribute toward development of the city’s new Main Street Program.

“That’s how much I’m personally committed to this and want to see it get off the ground,” said Evert, a longtime city employee.

The City of Lockport is one of three municipalities selected to take part in the Western Erie Canal Main Street Program, an enterprise guided by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. According to its Web site, the trademarked Trust, a 60-year-old organization anchored in Washington, D.C., strives to “protect the irreplaceable places that tell America’s story.”

Principles of historic preservation — understood as finding new uses for old structures — will be in play as Lockport operates a formal Main Street Program for three years. The National Trust prescribes a “four point approach” to revitalizing well-aged downtown districts using four broad concepts: design, economic restructuring, promotion and organization.

The end goal of the program is to see downtown’s vacant spaces filled and pedestrian traffic returned, Evert said. The target area for reoccupation is between Washburn and Transit streets/South Street to the north bank of the Erie Canal.

The Western Erie Canal Alliance, a not-for-profit organization, obtained a state Quality Communities grant to aid the entry of Lockport and the villages of Albion and Lyon into the Main Street Program. National Trust will provide each with technical assistance and training, valued at $70,000, to set a game plan for redeveloping downtown. WECA is coordinating the program in Western New York and will work with the communities to follow National Trust tenets for three years.

The program has certain requirements of participants, including: A program manager will be hired to follow the plan and will work for a not-for-profit board of directors that’s composed from, but is independent of, both local government and local business interests; and the program will have an operating budget of at least $50,000 per year funded jointly by the public and private sectors.

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