Hope mapping strategy for revitalizing town square

HOPE — Main Street of Hope is inviting the public to develop a consensus on strategies that would best benefit the Hope Town Square.

The Main Street organization will host a public workshop Thursday, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall at Hope Moravian Church, 202 Main Street, Hope.

Efforts have been made to persuade the town’s merchants and property owners to attend in an effort to get them involved in the decision-making process, said Susan Thayer Fye, executive director of Main Street of Hope.

In recent years, town officials have embarked on initiatives that include a comprehensive plan, zoning changes and a Safe Routes to School plan.

In 2015, Hope joined the Indiana Main Street program, which encourages the revitalization and restoration of downtown areas within the Hoosier state.

Last year, officials of the northeast Bartholomew County community of 2,100 residents announced they had received a $40,000 planning grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs for a Downtown Revitalization Plan.

That has allowed Main Street of Hope to create a consulting team made up of Columbus architect Louis Joyner and representatives from the Indianapolis-based Storrow Kinsella Associates, a planning and design studio.

Teams have been working with multiple focus groups since early January to develop preliminary recommendations and strategies that are individual to the Hope community, its history and aspirations, Thayer Fye said.

People who attend Thursday’s event will be given the opportunity to review potential strategies, provide comments, and talk to Main Street board members and their consulting team.

Thayer Fye said ideas and concepts will be grouped into three main categories:

  • Building fabric and business vitality
  • Main Street as Hope’s front door
  • Making the Town Square a focal point

The new Main Street of Hope director said her organization’s main goal is generating economic development.

“If you were to look around the square in two years, and every building was occupied with a business doing well, I would be tap-dancing,” Thayer Fye said.

Expected to be presented in August, the plan is intended to establish a road map to create a market-viable and sustainable downtown by making Hope a unique destination within the region, she said.

Based on a survey of available grants, it may be easier to secure funding for concepts focusing on the town’s rich heritage than those that attempt to emulate other communities, Thayer Fye said.

“We don’t want to be Columbus or Carmel,” Thayer Fye said. “We want to be Hope. And Hope is history.”

After the team presents its findings and recommendations late this summer, efforts will begin to obtain both public and private funds for implementation, she said

The Indiana Main Street program has a four-point approach — organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring — and is overseen by the Indiana Office of Rural and Community Affairs.

The office provides technical and financial assistance to participating communities.

If you go

What: A public workshop where residents and business owners are encouraged to bring their ideas to help plan the future of the Hope Town Square.

When: 6 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Fellowship Hall at Hope Moravian Church, 202 Main Street, Hope.

Information: 812-343-3798.

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.