LaFayette citizens join Main Street Alabama representatives to talk about the future of the city

Published 9:00 am Thursday, January 26, 2023

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On Tuesday night, LaFayette citizens had a chance to speak up about the future of the city’s downtown.

A Main Street Alabama resource team hosted a visioning session so the community could contribute feedback on LaFayette’s future goals. Students, business owners and community leaders gathered together to discuss the community’s needs.

The resource team is visiting to provide guidance on local revitalization efforts for LaFayette Main Street. The visit’s aim is to gather information from data, interviews and meetings that will be used to recommend a course of action within the four-point approach.

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During the visioning session, community members brainstormed ideas for downtown’s strengths and weaknesses. They were also asked about goods and services and attractions and activities they hope to see in five years.

“What we really want to know from you is what you want your downtown to be,” said Mary Helmer Wirth, State Coordinator for Main Street Alabama. “So this is the time where you get to hope and dream and wish and have some fun.” 

In addition to Wirth, the resource team consisted of Trisha Black, Assistant State Coordinator, Tanya Maloney, Field Service Specialist, Jay Schlinsog, District Professionals Network, and Ben Moore, Ben Moore Studio.

Schlinsog presented the attendants with the initial demographic information. According to him, there is a total population of 2,675, but during the day, it increases to 3,052. At the moment, there are 138 businesses in the community.

However, Schlinsog said that Main Street Alabama focuses on understanding the personality and identity of the community in the local market. Using tapestry segmentation, a market segmentation system that uses demographics and socioeconomic factors, the Main Street Alabama resource team will help identify unique local consumer markets. 

“The numbers don’t tell the real story of what’s going on here,” Schlinsog said.

Around 30 or 40 citizens attended the event. People of all ages and from different backgrounds were split into groups to discuss hopes for downtown. 

Some of the strengths that citizens chose were historic architecture, easy access and community involvement, while some weaknesses included vacant buildings, infrastructure and perception. Many in attendance hoped to see new restaurants, pubs and bars appear over the next five years. Others hoped to see an events center and nightlife entertainment develop.

However, the initial findings won’t be presented to the public until Jan. 26 after the team has had the opportunity to tour the town and interview more residents. During the public presentation, the resource team will give their recommendations for how LaFayette Main Street should proceed. The final report will be delivered in six weeks of the visit.

Looking ahead, the Main Street Alabama resource team will return in the winter of 2023 for basic training as LaFayette Main Street gains volunteers. According to Main Street Alabama, other future events include a board retreat, goal setting and workplan training.