Forty-five community leaders and volunteers attended the latest Virginia Main Street (VMS) training at Cally’s Restaurant and Brewing Co. in downtown Harrisonburg May 27, 2009. This year’s VMS Spring Feature focused on the public realm in downtown, the space between buildings which includes all public spaces, streets, alleys, sidewalks, parks, and open space. The theme complemented day two’s Virginia Downtown Development Association (VDDA) Annual Workshop topic on downtown housing opportunities. This was the first coordinated training between VMS and VDDA and it was well received by over 80 total participants from across the state.
Session topics addressed common funding programs for enhancing the public realm, as well as local examples of these programs in action. Joe Murray, a local certified arborist and Safety by Design board member gave an entertaining, however very informative look at the principles of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) to make downtown both attractive and safe. Al Bryan of Virginia Department of Transportation fame shared examples of making downtown handicap accessible through the use of transportation enhancement funds. And in a panel we checked out all the key demographic groups that are impacting the revitalization of Main Street Communities across the country, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Y, and the underappreciated dog owner.
Both events were thoughtfully hosted by Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance (HDR) and sponsored by the City of Harrisonburg and Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority. HDR Executive Director Eddie Bumbaugh and the exceptional staff pulled out all the stops to ensure everyone enjoyed their stay, starting with an exclusive performance by local musicians at Tini’s located in Downtown 56, a beer tasting of Cally’s exceptional local brew, Kline’s ice cream, and one very special dinner for the designated communities at the Joshua Wilton House. If you weren’t able to make it to the training, yeah, you missed something extraordinary! Stay tuned for the next VMS training scheduled for July 29 and 30 in Winchester.