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Downtown group set to go again


The Downtown Revitalization Committee will meet at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 27, at the Rusty Compass Coffeehouse on Main Street for the first time in nearly two years.

The committee, which formed in January 2011 as the Haines Borough’s follow-up to its $40,000 downtown revitalization plan, was moved under the wing of the Planning Commission last March.

Mayor Stephanie Scott, who was in charge of appointing members to the seven-person committee, said she would like the committee to discuss developing a “green space” at the corner of Main Street and Third Avenue.

Scott said she envisions a couple of “sun-soaking boulders” for sitting and climbing on, with six whiskey barrels repurposed as flower planters.

“I would like to dress it up a little bit more and make it a little bit more inviting,” Scott said.

Scott said her vision doesn’t involve installing anything that would eclipse future use of the land. “There isn’t any budget set aside for this so we need to figure it out. Even though it is my pet project, I can’t make it happen without some support,” she said.

Scott also would like to discuss the Haines-based Alaska Arts Confluence and its selection as a finalist for grant funding from ArtsPlace America. The Alaska Arts Confluence’s proposal includes new walking tour signage in Fort Seward and 25 professionally designed store windows.

Many of these organizations like ArtsPlace America like to see community support, Scott said, so she wants the committee to discuss it and “drum up interest.”

Buckshot and Bobby Pins owner Kristine Harder, who is a member of the committee who also previously served on it, said she is hoping the group won’t have to retread ground it has already covered.

“We spent a great deal of time inventing the wheel the last go around with the Downtown Revitalization Committee and I’m hoping we are going to be able to address a few of the things that weren’t implemented,” Harder said.  

MRV Architects, the Juneau firm that wrote the downtown revitalization plan, in April 2010 identified eight immediate priorities for a revitalization effort, including:

1) Formalizing a downtown improvement district and hiring a half-time staff person; 2) Working with the state Department of Transportation on funded improvements and starting discussion of future Main Street improvements; 3) Dedicating a local revenue source to get started; 4) Upgrading signage into town; 5) Starting a building improvement grant program; 6) Establishing a buy-local campaign, 7) Starting a downtown assistance program, and 8) Seeking funding for streetscape infrastructure.

Harder said she would also like to see the committee discuss the boarded-up buildings on Main Street. “My personal interest is seeing the planning commission take a hard look at implementing regulations for boarded-over buildings in downtown Haines,” she said.

Scott said she hopes the public will come, though the Rusty Compass is a pretty cramped space. “It’s a small place and I was concerned that it was small, but I guess people are just going to crowd in shoulder to shoulder.”

Members of the committee include Harder, Rusty Compass owner Lenise Henderson Fontenot, Chamber of Commerce member Patty Campbell, Chilkoot Indian Association member Harriett Brouillette, planning commissioner Heather Lende and Bamboo Room owner Christy Tengs Fowler.

Scott said she has tapped First National Bank branch manager Kyle Gray for the last open seat on the committee. She said Gray agreed to attend the first meeting and see if he can commit to being a full-time member.