It seems most people in and around the town of Halifax want nothing more than a safe, friendly town they can walk to filled with shops where they can greet their friends and neighbors throughout the day.
The days of the Courthouse Café, Booker’s Supermarket and Smitty’s Shoe Repair are long gone, but after the town of Halifax’s open house with Rebecca Rowe, Virginia Main Street program manager with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, on Wednesday afternoon, community members think Halifax has a chance to revitalize.
“This is a great idea. It’s been needed for a long time. I can’t wait to see what the results are,” said Betsye Throckmorton.
Former town of Halifax resident and county resident Don Bagwell also felt it was “wonderful” for the town to seek opinions from town residents and others from surrounding areas.
He still recalls the days when he could stroll down Main Street to the hot dog stand and see his friends.
Now looking at the state of the town he said, “It’s almost hurtful in a way. I have really fond memories, but we’ve lost businesses.”
Today, he’d like nothing more than to be able to wake up on Saturday morning, walk around the town, see people and stop in a bakery for a cup of coffee.
There’s just something about small, quality businesses he enjoys.
He misses the quaint, active, friendly town he once knew.
They were two of many who dropped by the town hall to share their ideas and words of wisdoms to the “powers that be” about what businesses they would like to see developed or how they would like the town to feel.
“It’s interesting to see what others say. There’s a good mix of answers so far,” said Throckmorton of the sea of neon that filled the walls of Halifax Town Hall.
To help pour out the ideas of others, the open house offered three ways for others to participate and share their ideas. They could stop in to the town hall to answer a list of questions that had been taped to the wall such as what community do you want to look like, or they could fill out a paper survey.
That survey also is available online through Survey Monkey, and will be available in person for the next two to three weeks. Individuals also can send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“A lot of times when you’re a in a public forum, people won’t speak up. This way, they can put their information up here, and they don’t have to talk to me unless they want to,” said Rowe, who said there had been “a lot people showing up.”
In gathering information from the wall and from listening to others, she said there’s been a lot of interest in parks, green spaces, restaurants and small businesses “so that this is a walkable community.
“The goal is to gather information about how they want to see Halifax redeveloped,” said Rowe, who has been with Virginia tourism for 33 years and has been helping with tourism development for 13 years.
After Wednesday’s event, she will then put all the information together for a meeting next month with a select group of community members she and the town are referring to as “sparkplugs.”
“They’re the movers and shakers who want to see the town developed and can assist with that,” said Rowe.
Those individuals will then be guided to develop a plan moving forward.
The question is what direction will the town take. The answer is up to the public.