Sher­brooke look­ing to give down­town facelift

The Casket - - Local - SAM MAC­DON­ALD sam­mac­don­[email protected]­cas­

Changes and im­prove­ments are com­ing to the com­mu­nity of Sher­brooke in the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the District of St. Mary’s.

A re­quest for pro­posal closed Dec. 21, for the Sher­brooke Streetscape Plan.

Cur­rently, the Streetscape Plan is a tourism ini­tia­tive in­tended to op­ti­mize the abil­ity of Sher­brooke to at­tract and bring back guests.

"Ba­si­cally, it’s to spur in­vest­ment from the tourism in­dus­try," Kelly Green­land, eco­nomic devel­op­ment and plan­ning of­fi­cer for the district, said.

"It’s try­ing to get peo­ple who are, maybe, driv­ing along High­way 7, once they reach Sher­brooke, to turn right at the key in­ter­sec­tion, in­stead of go­ing left."

Green­land said the Streetscape Plan wants to help in­trigue po­ten­tial guests pass­ing, while driv­ing along the Eastern Shore.

"We want them tak­ing a stop and go­ing into the vil­lage or check­ing out our down­town area, and to stay a while for a lit­tle visit," Green­land said. "And hope­fully, it will bring them back."

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion from the St. Mary’s web­site, the ob­jec­tive of the pro­ject is, "to im­prove the pub­lic realm along the Main Street/high­way 7 pro­ject area."

To achieve this, the district in­tents to cre­ate in­fra­struc­ture and gath­er­ing places to en­cour­age pub­lic-pri­vate con­nec­tions and en­cour­age pedes­trian ac­tiv­ity in the down­town core.

If that sounds a bit ope­nended, that’s by de­sign, said Green­land, who noted the re­quest for pro­posal is seek­ing the vi­sion of those who want to work on the pro­ject.

"We don’t know what the im­prove­ments will be yet. We pur­pose­fully didn’t put a lot of de­tailed pa­ram­e­ters in the RFP, be­cause we want to see ideas come out of the pro­pos­als," Green­land said.

Green­land noted the RFP also en­tails a "vi­sion­ing ex­er­cise," that will be taken into ac­count when re­view­ing pro­pos­als, see­ing what vi­sion is the best fit for Sher­brooke.

"One con­sul­tant may have an en­tirely dif­fer­ent vi­sion from an­other in terms of on-the­ground-im­prove­ments," Green­land said. "We want the pride the res­i­dents and busi­ness own­ers have in the Sher­brooke area to be ev­i­dent in the ap­pear­ance on the out­side."

Green­land em­pha­sized that the choice the district makes will be "the best fit for Sher­brooke and the Main Street area. What fits into the iden­tity that busi­ness own­ers and res­i­dents iden­tify with."

Po­ten­tial im­prove­ments, gen­er­ally speak­ing, will also in­clude bet­ter driv­ing and park­ing op­tions to al­low for bet­ter, safer flow of ve­hic­u­lar and pedes­trian traf­fic.

Land­scap­ing and gen­eral beau­ti­fi­ca­tion also will fea­ture in the plans for Sher­brooke.

The district’s plans will dove­tail with other re­gional tourism projects – such as those re­lated to the his­tor­i­cal Sher­brooke Vil­lage site – and is ex­pected to trig­ger greater eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in the St. Mary’s re­gion.

This connection to the vil­lage site is im­por­tant, Green­land noted, be­cause "the vil­lage is part of our iden­tity."

"It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how con­sul­tants re­spond to that, and what de­gree of in­te­gra­tion they will pro­pose," Green­land said. "We want to make Sher­brooke Vil­lage a des­ti­na­tion."

The district an­tic­i­pates the im­prove­ments to "en­hance the pub­lic realm and the per­cep­tion of Sher­brooke’s Main Street pros­per­ity and safety, in­clud­ing in­creased use of the pub­lic realm by pri­vate busi­nesses, cit­i­zens and vis­i­tors as gath­er­ing places which spill over into in­creased cus­tomer traf­fic for lo­cal busi­nesses."

So far, Green­land noted there has been a great deal of lo­cal in­ter­est in the pro­ject.

"I think the scope of the pro­ject is nar­row enough that we’ll see a pretty quick turnover and time­line, from be­gin­ning to end," Green­land said.

"There’s flex­i­bil­ity in the RFP, but we want to wrap it up by the spring or early sum­mer," she added, re­fer­ring to a spe­cific ac­tion­able plan.

Green­land noted the district wants a plan with a set-in-stone im­ple­men­ta­tion com­po­nent, so the ac­tual de­tails of when things can be ex­pected to hap­pen are avail­able. That re­mains to be de­ter­mined, depend­ing on which pro­posal is cho­sen.

"It will be a fleshed-out plan. So, it de­pends on what pro­posal we go with, and what sort of tim­ing is in­cluded in that pro­posal," she said. "One con­sul­tant may have a medi­umterm im­ple­men­ta­tion plan, and an­other may have dif­fer­ent tim­ing as­pects."

The max­i­mum bud­get for the pro­ject is set at $43,000. Green­land noted at this time, while there is still much in the air in terms of plan­ning, the district is not able to dis­close its sources of fund­ing.

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