Car­bon­ear un­veils down-town re­vi­tal­iza­tion plan

Aims to breathe new life into area

The Compass - - Front page - BY CHRIS LEWIS chris.lewis@cb­n­com­pass.ca

After months of work look­ing at the present state and po­ten­tial of down­town Car­bon­ear, a con­sul­tant hired by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity de­tailed find­ings of a re­port in a public pre­sen­ta­tion last Wed­nes­day. The plan, which in­cludes the pos­si­bil­ity of a farm­ers’ mar­ket and more green space, would re­port­edly cost over $5 mil­lion to im­ple­ment.

CAR­BON­EAR, NL — Car­bon­ear’s down­town area is look­ing to get re­vi­tal­ized, and Tract Con­sult­ing has some big plans in mind.

On Wed­nes­day night, Nov. 15, Tract Con­sult­ing pres­i­dent Neil Dawe made a pre­sen­ta­tion to res­i­dents of the com­mu­nity, as well as busi­ness own­ers of down­town Car­bon­ear. The project came about fol­low­ing a ten­der sent out by the Town of Car­bon­ear, look­ing to give a new life to the down­town area. Dawe told The Com­pass that after be­ing awarded the con­tract, he and the rest of Tract Con­sult­ing are look­ing for­ward to giv­ing down­town Car­bon­ear a fresh feel.

The Princess Sheila NaGeira Theatre saw sev­eral dozen mem­bers of the com­mu­nity join to­gether for Dawe’s pre­sen­ta­tion, which high­lighted the ideas and con­cepts be­hind the re­vi­tal­iza­tion project.

Dawe de­scribed the aim of the project was to cre­ate an at­trac­tive and dis­tinct wa­ter­front dis­trict, with a strong fo­cus on things like so­cial in­ter­ac­tion, eco­nomic and cul­tural de­vel­op­ment, and a sense of wel­come for res­i­dents and vis­i­tors alike.

“Down­town Car­bon­ear is al­ready a beau­ti­ful part of the com­mu­nity, and al­ready has a lot go­ing for it,” said Dawe. “But we just want to im­prove on that – en­hance it, and make it more invit­ing and wel­com­ing. Build on what’s al­ready there. We’d like to see some light­ing, some sig­nage, some places for chil­dren, or places where we can have pic­nics in the sum­mer. We want a place that’s de­signed for the com­mu­nity.”

The project, which has been di­vided up into sev­eral phases, is ex­pected to start in spring of 2018 if all goes well. A cost es­ti­mate for all these phases com­bined, con­ducted in April of 2017, priced the project at $5,308,951.

Dawe’s pre­sen­ta­tion also high­lighted a fo­cus on cel­e­brat­ing Car­bon­ear’s his­tory, not­ing things like sto­ry­boards and mu­rals that tell the story of the town akin to the ones seen in many larger cities across the world, and other slight, but no­tice­able changes that Dawe feels would sig­nif­i­cantly en­hance the down­town ex­pe­ri­ence.

Other smaller ad­di­tions, such as more trees and flora in the area, as well as larger-scale am­bi­tions like wa­ter­front parks and event ar­eas, as well as a farmer’s mar­ket, are all on the list of things Dawe would like to see added to the area as the project un­folds.

Dawe also noted that while the project looks to add and ex­pand on the down­town area, it also hopes to help en­hance busi­nesses and tourist at­trac­tions that al­ready ex­ist in the area.

“Places like the Stone Jug, Rorke Store, and old post of­fice are al­ready at­tract­ing vis­i­tors to the area,” ex­plained Dawe. “But there are so many more build­ings on Wa­ter Street that could be hav­ing the same ef­fect, and that’s also a part of what we want to do to give the street a fresh feel­ing.”

While many res­i­dents present for the pre­sen­ta­tion seemed to like what they were see­ing, some still had con­cerns about what it meant for those al­ready liv­ing and work­ing in the area.

The re­vi­tal­iza­tion of cer­tain build­ings and the process in­volved in do­ing so was a ma­jor con­cern for some res­i­dents, who stated that there were al­ready some build­ings in the area that had not been looked at in years, and were be­com­ing some­thing of an eye­sore. Dawe, along­side Mayor Frank Butt, ex­plained that the town is look­ing into ways to han­dle build­ings owned by peo­ple that can­not be con­tacted.

Re­vi­tal­iz­ing the area re­quires build­ings on the street pro­vid­ing vis­i­tors and res­i­dents with a sense of wel­come. This, as Dawe ex­plained, in­cludes giv­ing busi­nesses and other build­ings a new look, with a fo­cus on us­ing clap­board sid­ing, main­tain­ing an old New­found­land vibe. Con­cerns

Wa­ter Street busi­ness owner Keith Thomas raised con­cerns about this, stat­ing that, while he wel­comes the change, such ren­o­va­tions can be costly, es­pe­cially when it comes to main­tain­ing the sid­ing ev­ery five or so years once it be­gins to show signs of wear.

“What sort of in­cen­tive do I, as well as other busi­nesses in the area, have to make these changes? I have no doubt that it would im­prove the vis­ual as­pect of the area, but such things can be very costly,” said Thomas.

While no ma­jor de­ci­sions have been made by the town or by Tract Con­sult­ing to ad­dress these con­cerns, both Dawe and Butt stated that such con­ver­sa­tions were vi­tal to the fu­ture of the project.

After the pre­sen­ta­tion, Dawe spoke with The Com­pass about the project, and what comes next after Wed­nes­day night’s pre­sen­ta­tion.

“There’s a lot of work that’s been done that should re­ally set a very good plat­form upon which to now build out the street, to carry out the first phase,” Dawe ex­plained. “I think a lot of peo­ple in the com­mu­nity feel that this is a de­vel­op­ment whose time has come, and I re­ally think that Car­bon­ear’s star is ris­ing – it’s be­com­ing a place to go to now.”

Dawe also ex­plained that, as­sum­ing the town can ac­quire the funds for the project, the next step for the process is the un­der­ground in­fra­struc­ture. This in­cludes any un­der­ground wiring that is re­quired to sup­port things like in­ter­net con­nec­tion, wall plug ins for res­i­dents, as well as larger ad­di­tions Dawe en­vi­sions for the street, such as wa­ter foun­tains.

An­other ma­jor as­pect of the un­der­ground in­fra­struc­ture that Dawe would like to see done is the place­ment of light pole util­i­ties un­der­ground, rid­ding the street of any wires hang­ing above peo­ple’s heads.

“If that is pos­si­ble, it would do won­ders for the street – it would look cleaner right off the bat, and would also help us when it comes to adding trees, or any sort of tall struc­tures,” Dawe said.

I re­ally think that Car­bon­ear’s star is ris­ing – it’s be­com­ing a place to go to now.

— Neil Dawe

CHRIS LEWIS/THE COM­PASS

A part of the project hopes to see a farmer’s mar­ket area added to Wa­ter Street.

CHRIS LEWIS/THE COM­PASS

The pre­sen­ta­tion also high­lighted the dif­fer­ence some­thing as sim­ple as more trees can make to the vis­ual as­pect of the area.

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