Community meeting goal includes hope of moving downtown revitalization effort forward

Posted October 4, 2017 at 8:55 am


The Clinton County Extension Office hosted a community meeting Friday which was the first of several meetings to come that will discuss and hopefully put into action, plans for the Revitalization of the downtown region of Albany.

The extension office has been in contact with architects at Virgina Tech and a plan has been proposed that offers how the downtown area could look once future projects are completed.

Making the downtown area of Albany more accessible to citizens of Clinton County is a goal to bring the people of Clinton County together to improve the way of life in Albany and Clinton County.

There have been several grants and donations given in order to build a new Farmers Market located between the Clinton County News office and Albany Building Center.

Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences Christy Guffey spearheaded and moderated last week’s meeting that brought more than 20 people together to brainstorm about what needs to happen in the upcoming months .

Among those in attendance at last weeks meeting were city and county officials including Mayor Nicky Smith and Clinton County Judge/Executive Richard Armstrong.

Others present were members of community groups representing various organizations as well as across-section of several citizens who were interested in the project.

“Our entire office team has kind of helped facilitate a number of projects in the community over the past few years,” Guffey said. “We wanted to use today as an opportunity to regroup, refocus and bring some more folks to the table. It’s exciting to see this many people at the table.”

All of this work has stemmed from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Obesity grant the county received a few years ago according to Guffey.

“That made us take a deeper look at ‘What does our community really look like in terms of physical activity?’,” Guffey said.

One of the reasons for the push to revitalize the downtown area is centered around a common goal of producing opportunities for our residents to improve their health status by adopting lifestyles that would cut down on health issues that haunt people in this region of the country – obesity, diabetes, heart disease and a host of other ailments.

Friday’s meeting started around 11 a.m. and lasted just a little more than an hour.

A lot of the future of this project is going to come from the cooperation of the city and county officials.

Extending sidewalk trails throughout the county was a major topic at the meeting and in years past, better sidewalks in the city and county has been an ongoing issue.

Guffey said the trail would not only connect the county with concrete, but would utilize the existing cross country trails and other linkages in order to bring the community together.

“These things are not going to happen overnight,” Guffey said. “It’s going to take us some time to get there.”

To get started with the brain storming, Guffey asked the people in the room to start naming all the positive things about the area in which we live.

“I think there are all kinds of things about this town that we would all like to promote,” Guffey said.

Guffey then posed the question to think about the things Albany used to have.

“What’s missing?,” Guffey asked. “What are some of the things we really need to focus on and what’s it going to take to get there?”

This process was a way to get those who attended the meeting to speak out and to bring different ideas together in order to get different perspectives.

During the meeting everything from how the appearance of the new Farmers Market should look to the overall appearance of the square was discussed. Guffey mentioned the replacement of awnings on the store fronts around the square to improve the appearance. Any and everything is being considered when talking about turning the downtown area into a gatherin place for people in the area.

One of the main activities saw those who attended the meeting to write ideas down on a post-it note and display them on the wall for future reference.

Items that were placed on a piece of paper had several different topics including events to have at the new Farmers Market location.

“It will probably take a lot of money to do the sidewalks, but how much money will it take to do a few signs? Probably not that much right?,” Guffey said. “I think we have to start somewhere with a small win.”

Signage was a popular subject during Friday’s meeting. Signage is referring to road signs and letting people know, who may not be familiar to Albany, which way they need to travel through town or signs to tell people where they are when they get to Albany.

Toward the end of the meeting, talks of having an event at the new location of the Farmers Market was discussed. Guffey said she thought it might be too quick to have anything up and running by the time the Foothills Festival rolled around this year, but talked of having an event to tie into the “Christmas at Home” program in December.

“I think it is very true that we have some very unique opportunities right now,” Guffey said. “Now we just need to get creative on how we instill a little bit more pride.”

Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences Christy Guffey addressed those attending last week’s meeting (a second section of attendees at the meeting are out of view) regarding an effort to push for revitalization in the downtown region of Albany.