No dead end for Main Street

-A A +A
By Jonna Spelbring Priester

General Manager

The New Castle Main Street/Renaissance program is safe – for now.

In a narrow 3-2 vote Thursday, Jan. 24, the New Castle City Commission voted to sign the annual letter of commitment, allowing the city’s Main Street Manager to proceed with the Main Street recertification process.

Commissioners Tim Royalty and Tammy Sharp voted for the city to not sign the letter, while Commissioners Wanda Thurman and Juanita Raisor and Mayor Judy Diederich voted to continue the letter.

But it was Raisor who may have cast the swing vote. For her, it came down to what she heard from her constituency.

“I thought about it for a long time, and I couldn’t make a decision,” she said. “So I called around to a lot of the residents in the town. I feel like the residents voted me in, and I just wanted to get their input in.”

And, more or less, that input was to keep the Main Street/Renaissance program. She also said she felt the new Main Street Manager deserved a chance to prove himself.

“I thought it was important to give the new Main Street Manager at least a year,” Raisor said.

Thurman said she was obviously pleased with the vote, and that a room full of interested residents voiced their opinion during the 75 minute long meeting.

“Everybody that came was for the Main Street Program, and did not want to see us get out of that,” she said.

Thurman, who was on the council that first brought the Main Street/Renaissance program to New Castle said she’s always felt the program could help the city.

“We’ve worked awfully hard, stuck by,” she said, adding that the opportunity to get grant funding for the city was a primary reason for entering the program.

“We need (grant funding) for infrastructure, we need it for beautification and a number of things,” she said. “(Main Street)’s the only way, this little town doesn’t generate enough extra money, we can’t do those extra things.”

Diederich said she too was pleased with the outcome, and said the program is “probably the best vehicle that any, particularly small cities have, for economic revitalization.” She estimates it will require two rounds of funding to “finish the (Locker) completely,” and that other things can be done through Main Street/Renaissance while the Locker project continues.

Diederich, like many supporters of the program, feels the program is vital for the city’s future.

“We do need to reengineer and revitalize our economic base,” she said. “Things have change, the automobile has changed everything ... we need to put businesses here that will not only serve the local customer, but bring people in.”

The Local was unable to reach Royalty and Sharp for comment on this story.

e-mail us about this article at editor@hclocal.com.