Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Dear Scottsboro




This is a letter to the citizens of Scottsboro. It is for anyone who cares about our city and its progress,  businesses, people and future.

Four years ago we learned that Scottsboro and Jackson County would be the recipients of grants for the revitalization of our downtown square. Together, the grants would amount to around a million dollars. Our imaginations were piqued and we all started dreaming about what our community could look like with this boost to the heart of both the city and county. Then, a question was posted on a Facebook page called, "You know you are from the 'Boro, if you remember...". The question was, "I've seen many post recently about the STATUS of the 'boro, lack of progress, growth,etc. SO if we are truly CONCERNED CITIZENS let's help "those in charge" with growth opportunities and ideas! For example what we think would help move us FORWARD. SO, below finish this sentence .... "Welcome to Scottsboro, HOME OF_____________". That is when the ideas really started flowing. So much so, that another citizen was inspired to corral all of the ideas being exchanged onto a new Facebook page called, Revive. It became clear after a while that the ideas on Revive were never-ending and, while that was great, we needed to be more focused if anything was to get done.  A group for the express purpose of focusing attention on our downtown area was formed. The group, Downtown Scottsboro, began with the singular mission of turning downtown Scottsboro into an arts and entertainment district. After four years, the membership has changed several times, but our mission has remained. Our initial thought was to bring interest back to the heart of the city by hosting some events on the courthouse square. We began with a couple of movie nights on the courthouse lawn. Then we branched out with a Christmas event, Jingle Bell Square, and a marketplace event in the spring. These events have been well supported and attended, but anyone with eyes can see that we still have not achieved our ultimate goal. Scottsboro still does not have an arts and entertainment district. Other than the events we host, what has come from our efforts is the emergence of a barbecue committee which hosts a barbecue festival in the fall and the formation of the Downtown Redevelopment Authority (DRA). The DRA can accept grants and put that money to use on our square. Currently, DRA is working on placing park benches and business signs around the square for a more cohesive look. And that initial grant money that sparked so many dreams and ideas has gone into new sidewalks, wiring and other upgrades to the square. Downtown Scottsboro was also able to help with the purchase of speakers for the square so that we could enjoy Christmas music during the holidays and for music and announcements at other events. The mayor had the idea of forming a Christmas Committee to help connect Downtown Scottsboro's Jingle Bell Square to the city's Christmas parade. From that committee, the idea for a tree trail grew and this year Scottsboro hosted our first Jingle Bell Trail. While the loose dirt from all the construction caused the trees to lean from time to time, overall, the event was a success. We learned a lot and plan to put all that knowledge to use next year for the second annual Jingle Bell Trail.

I'm telling you all this so you will see how much we have accomplished in four years and how far we still have to go. Everything we have done, every event we have hosted has been positive and we are proud of the effort and determination that has gotten us to this point, but we can't quit now and we realize we need help. We need professional help. Hello, Main Street Alabama! 

Main Street Alabama describes itself as a nonprofit organization that stresses public-private partnerships, broad community engagement, and strategies that create jobs, spark new investment, attract visitors, and spur growth. Main Street builds on the authentic history, culture, and attributes of specific places, to bring sustainable change. Main Street Alabama began in 2009 and incorporated in 2010 to serve as state coordinator of the Main Street program. It follows a 30-year-old model for community revitalization that has seen great success nationwide.

Main Street Alabama has been instrumental in boosting the downtowns of many Alabama towns and, really, changing the economy of those communities. From Florence to Opelika and Monroeville to Gadsden, cities and towns across the state are changing the course of their history with the help of Main Street Alabama. Last Monday, a representative from Main Street Alabama came to Scottsboro to tell our citizens about the program and the ways in which it could benefit Scottsboro. Now, we are having a follow-up meeting on March 12, so that the people of Scottsboro can get more details and ask questions about the program. I am writing this letter to encourage you to come to City Hall on Monday, March 12, to learn about this program. We are at a place in our history where we need to make some decisions about what we want Scottsboro to look like in a year, five years, ten years. This is important and if you care about the future of our town, please make an effort to attend this meeting. We can't just leave it to our elected leaders and then become angry and disappointed when things don't turn out the way we want them to. Become interested. Become involved. Become informed. I'll see you on March 12.





Richi Reynolds
Richi Reynolds

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