CLEARFIELD – Members of the Clearfield Revitalization Corp. boasted the accomplishments of the past year while also expressing enthusiasm for future projects at the second annual town meeting Wednesday night at the Moena Restaurant.
Kellie Truman, Main Street manager, said she was proud of the CRC and how far it’s come and all it’s achieved in the downtown district over the past year. In 2010, the downtown saw 10 new businesses open their doors, she said.
According to her, there are currently 179 businesses in Clearfield’s Main Street district. In addition, she said there are less than 15 unoccupied storefronts for a vacancy rate below 10 percent.
Based on building permits in the Main Street district, she said that private investments exceeded $275,000 in 2010. She pointed out that neither the YMCA addition nor the Clearfield County Administrative Offices were included in the figure.
Truman said that the CRC awarded $25,900 in grant funding to 14 projects in the downtown district. Because it’s a 50 percent matching grant of up to $5,000, she said it resulted in a private investment of $85,644 to exterior renovations.
“We set a high benchmark in 2010, and we want to keep the same intensity in 2011,” Truman said, crediting her volunteers who invested 58 percent more time toward the CRC this past year.
In fact, Truman said that volunteers expended 1,238 hours in 2009 and upped the efforts further to 2,921 in 2010. She said the state puts an hourly rate of $19.61 on volunteer time, which makes the latter an in-kind investment of $57,280.81.
“(They are) making this town come alive, but I think a better measurement is to look around. We couldn’t do it without the volunteers. It takes a town to change a town,” she said.
Dr. Keely Casteel, president of the CRC, said the Main Street program was just starting out last year, and it has been “such a journey.” She thanked former Clearfield Mayor Patty Gilliland for being the “driving force” behind the program’s birth.
She said that Truman came in as the “new kid on the block” and stepped into her current role as manager. “We have all been learning with her over this past year,” Casteel said.
She continued, “There hadn’t been a Main Street program since the 1980’s. The state says it takes 10 years to build, I’d say we have a great start.”
Casteel said that CRC projects focus on the revitalization of the “American people and spirit” in downtown Clearfield. When embracing any project, she said its effects on the people and the town are taken into consideration.
According to Casteel, they look for ways to upgrade the current Main Street district and bring it forward to modern-day. She said the CRC wants community support, so that it can continue its momentum.
Patricia Kavelak of the promotions committee said their emphasis is to draw people into the downtown for events and to venture into local businesses.
Looking back on the past year, she called attention to two events – “The Amazing Race” and the “Anything That Floats” Boat Regatta;” both were held in conjunction with the annual Riverfront Festival.
“We went out on a limb with the regatta, but it generated fun and excitement,” she said. “. . . There were people and talking. It was just a lot of fun. When it was over, it was like ‘wow, we did it. We brought people into downtown Clearfield.’”
Kavelak said their variation of the television show, “The Amazing Race,” presented clues and challenges to participants who arrived with matching T-shirts and game plans.
Participants were followed by a newscaster whom chased them and whom they left out of breath. But the race revealed some novelties of the downtown, which the participants weren’t aware of prior to the event, she said.
During the first weekend in December, she said the CRC held its first “Spirit of the Downtown” tour. Local merchants offered wine and food samples and “special discounts” for participants who passed through the downtown district at their leisure.
“People were amazed by the shopping available in the downtown for Christmas,” Kavelak said. “We want to continue these (events) in 2011 but want them to continue to grow – get bigger and better.”
Katie Miknis of the design committee highlighted the accomplishments that were the result of her team’s effort. She said the main goal of her committee is the implementation of the façade program.
She said that St. Charles Café’s restoration evolved into the “cornerstone” of that program this past year. She said it was among the first projects pitched to her committee.
“I was kind of overwhelmed. There was so much to be done and so many different directions,” Miknis said. “But it’s turned into something wonderful for that street and to welcome people into our downtown.”
Miknis also pointed out improvements completed on the Moena and Kriner buildings, The Sweet Art Bakery and Burns & Burns Insurance. Now, when looking down East Market Street, she said that it’s visually all pulled together.
She noted a smaller scale project to the exterior of the Grice Gun Shop, which brought out both its “historical and business character” with a new wood grain sign.
In addition to its façade program, the design committee initiated the “Golden Broom” award, which was presented to the downtown merchant with a well-kept storefront monthly this summer through October. The first winner was selected by the committee; however, then it became peer-to-peer, she said.
In 2011, Casteel said the CRC plans to furnish black, wrought-iron Victorian park benches in between the lamp posts along East Market Street outside of the Clearfield County Courthouse. She said the benches will be purchased locally and are expected to cost approximately $1,000 each.
According to her, they recently received a grant in the amount of $2,000 and plan to use it toward the benches. However, any interested business or individual can sponsor a park bench. Sponsors will be recognized on plaques to be placed on the benches, Casteel said.
She said the CRC hopes to have benches placed throughout the downtown, including its parks. She said it would increase the downtown’s walkability and make it more inviting to pedestrians.
Truman said that the design committee has scheduled a façade workshop from 5 – 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2 at St. Charles Café., 226 North Third St., Clearfield.
She said any downtown business owner who is interested in the program should bring a current storefront photo, façade improvement ideas and an application form.