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Main Street group in early stages

February 27, 2013
While still in its infancy, the Georgetown Main Street planning committee has some big plans for the future. The revitalization committee is still in its organizational phase, but it is already generating talk.

"I moved here 42 years ago, and what made me move here — besides my best friend — were the trees and the sidewalks and the houses were so clean," said Georgetown Town Councilwoman Kathy Haller, who also is a member of Georgetown Main Street's organizational committee. "… It was so good."

Above is how the Wolfe Hotel in Georgetown appeared in its heyday. “This is my goal,” owner John Beams said. With the Georgetown Main Street committee forging full-steam ahead, Beams may see his dream become a reality. The hotel is in good company, as it sits near the birthplace of Sherman Minton, a former associate justice of the Supreme Court. Photo courtesy of John Beams
Through the years, Georgetown has experienced its share of setbacks. Haller remembers moving here before the tornado that uprooted many of the town's trees and her dismay that they've not yet been re-seeded.

"They were supposed to be replaced," Haller said. "That's just one of the projects we'd like to work on."

Other possible projects include cleaning up sidewalks, properties and the entrances to the town.

With Georgetown's new honorary distinction on the National Register of Historic Places, there has been a movement among some members of the town to update, restore and revive the Main Street and surrounding areas.

While the National Register brings a historical prestige to the area, it's up to the individuals who reside within the town to make a difference on the front line.

Enter Indiana Main Street.

Indiana Main Street is the coordinating program in the state to the National Main Street Center. Indiana Main Street encourages the revitalization and restoration of downtown areas in Indiana cities and towns.

It is a state-funded program that provides technical assistance and educational opportunities to its participating communities. It has a four-point approach to revitalization, and those communities that partner with the program are expected to adopt the approach, as well.

The approach includes design, organization, promotion and economic restructuring.

"We had to have a name, projects we had proposed with the committee, letters of support and membership," John Beams, organizational committee member and owner of the Wolfe Hotel in town, said. "We have completed most of these, and the next step is to do the actual application to the Indiana Main Street."

Georgetown Main Street, if approved, will be an affiliate of Indiana Main Street. Organizational members are currently in the process of filing all applicable paperwork as well as pursuing non-profit 501(c)3 status.

Community support is a big part of the Indiana Main Street organization. In order to become a member, the organizing committee has to show that it has the community's support in the endeavor to beautify and organize projects.

"We have already started working; on March 16 we have a cleanup project to generate local support," Beams said. "That's really our next step, is getting community support and volunteers."

Haller said they have no shortage of interest in the community.

"We've got a good mix of people who want to help," she said. "Our very first meeting we probably had 30 or 40 people; we're working on a webpage and getting our mission out there."

Beams agreed that support has been forthcoming from the community but he also believes that there are many more who would help but are waiting to see how it goes.

"I think they're waiting for the action," he said. "With any community, and with Georgetown in particular, there is a lot of chatter, but what's the action going to be? It's the same thing that the town asks."

Education and economic restructuring are also a large part of Indiana Main Street and the possible Georgetown Main Street program.

Beams said the organization wants to know how the committee plans to educate the community on why the downtown area is so important as well as how it will foster youth involvement and education. How the group plans to strengthen the district's existing economic base while finding ways to expand it to make new opportunities is also at the forefront of the group's expectations.

"It's not all about beautification," he said. "We have to have a plan, and it has to be well thought out."

The organizational committee for Georgetown Main Street will meet again on Tuesday, March 12, at 6:30 p.m. at the Georgetown Optimist Club. All are welcome to attend, and community input is encouraged.

The organizational committee will host a cleanup on Saturday, March 16, for two properties along S.R. 64. For more information, contact Haller at k.haller3@insightbb.com.

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