State expert says Small Town Main Street not working in Spencer

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 13, 2014

SPENCER — Turf wars are apparently hurting the Small Town Main Street program in Spencer.
Spencer is in the midst of a two-year, mostly state-funded effort to come up with ways to revitalize the downtown commercial district — everything from branding the town to economic restructuring.
But Sherry Adams, the Small Town Main Street state coordinator, is recommending all committee work ceases for six months while the town regroups.
“There are too many ‘silos’ still in existence for this program to survive,” Adams wrote in a memo to Town Manager Larry Smith.
Aldermen will discuss the issue at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the town hall during their regular monthly meeting.
Adams said while some people want to create various activities within the downtown boundaries to feel that the town’s Small Town Main Street program is accomplishing its vision, there is a still a lack of cohesiveness.
True “buy-in” to the original plan “has not sincerely materialized” from the full Small Town Main Street committee, she said.
Adams is recommending that all committees stop their work, including plans for a proposed March 15 5K run.
“Even if the 5K were to move forward and possibly be successful, I am not convinced at this time that it will have a long-term benefit,” Adams said.
Too many people are focused on “tasks” and not the long-term success and sustainability of the Small Town Main Street program, she said.
Adams recommends no more STMS meetings from January to May. Instead, other organizations that already exist will take over and present a planning document in June to the full Small Town Main Street committee.
Adams envisions the process moving forward from there.
The groups she suggests should take over for the Small Town Main Street committees include:
• Spencer Historic Preservation Commission for the design committee
• Spencer Business Association for the promotion committee
• Rowan County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Commission for the economic restructuring and promotion committee
• N.C. Transportation Museum for Small Town Main Street at large, as a partner with the town of Spencer
Also on Tuesday’s agenda:
• Public comment
• Town audit
• Proposed speed limit change
• Discussion of the planning retreat
• Request for qualifications for the town’s property needs assessment
• Black History Month resolution
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.