Wed07302014

Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

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In with the old and out with the new

Residents polled agree on one thing, the town needs a facelift but everyone has different ideas about what’s best. The revitalization block grant committee must work to decide what changes the town will pursue.

In 2010, Colonial Beach received a Business District Revitalization planning grant of $35,000 to perform an analysis of the town and develop a comprehensive economic restructuring plan for the town’s historic business district in order to attract more tourists. The business district runs the length of Colonial and Washington Ave. as well as surrounding blocks towards the

beachfront.

LandStudio was contracted to help perform the analysis and develop the restructuring plan by engaging citizens in a series of workshops to poll for their ideas. The goal was to identify strengths, weaknesses and visions for the future. From these workshops, a committee was formed to hone in on what the community wants.

At last Monday’s committee meeting Carol Rizzio, of LandStudio, presented the group with a working plan outlining the results of several surveys conducted at the citizen workshops.
The Business District Revitalization plan revealed through its visioning, analysis and conceptualization results from surveys completed, that the citizens of the town of Colonial Beach don’t lack in creative ideas, but they do lack consensus.

Many people agree on what needs to be changed but disagree on how to make those changes come about.

Some want all the old buildings to stay, preserving history, but only if they are really old. Preserving memories seems to be an important result throughout the survey.

Survey results are conflicting, for example the Days Inn hotel is referred to as a blight on the community by some. In one statement it refers to the building being outdated as well as non-historical. Some residents have stated the hotel should be demolished, however some residents want to keep the rubble pile at the end of Colonial Ave. saying it has some historical significance.

The Days Inn (now called the Beach Inn) is roughly 25 years old and in recent years has become run down. It is now in the hands of Marin Management Company, hired by the Pacific City Bank to make repairs and keep it running until it can be sold.

One item folks seem to agree on is that the Boardwalk and Colonial Ave. need to be spruced up and more inviting to visitors. However the manner in which this should be done is varied throughout the survey results. For example, some folks want more walking areas cut off to traffic, others want the streets to stay the same.

The gist of the survey reveals that residents feel the town is uninviting due to unkempt areas of the boardwalk and business hub.

Sprucing up the areas with plants, trees, and other vegetation is just one of the agreed upon solutions mentioned to make the town more inviting. Another complaints concern parking areas — concrete is cracking, gravel parking is unsightly and sidewalks are either in disrepair, covered with dirt and grass or non-existent.

One comment discussed the lack of “window shopping”. Many businesses in town have no shop windows and resemble houses making them uninviting to new-comers.

Signage is another concern, both signage for businesses being uniform and attractive as well as the need for signs indicating historic areas and directions to businesses, the beach and other attractions not known to tourists.

The consensus is that the town needs some cohesion in signage, store-fronts, lighting and more cooperation between residents, business owners and the town’s government.

These ideas could address the problem of lack of tourism and might boost sales for businesses. One thing is certain—the committee has their work cut out for them.

Linda Farneth

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