You know, good community development is a lot like good comedy – timing is everything.
The community has to be ready to throw its support behind a certain project, and only then do you see great plans turn into real action. And when that community support is there, well, then the sky is limit!
Early last year the people of Grafton raised the idea of building some kind of space in their main street for performances and public events. A vision emerged of a large deck on the vacant site of what was once called the Clark Building.
This was during the Turn This Town Around initiative, and Hub staff were working with locals to identify and cultivate achievable community development projects.
Back then, we provided them with a $2,500 mini grant to help get things started – just a small first step. We knew the people of Grafton would have to raise a lot more money and support to make their big idea a reality.
And then things started happening.
The City of Grafton contributed $10,000, including funding the purchase of the lot… Local community members started donating what they could to the deck project – time and materials mostly… The local Lowes provided a discount on lumber… And then Arch Coal, the company that owns the nearby Leer Mining Complex, threw their considerable support behind the project, donating $40,000 in supplies and construction assistance.
And hey presto, the deck was built.
Although some work remains to be done, already the Grafton Main Street deck has started hosting events, not only providing a great outlet for entertainment and community gathering, but also generating some new economic activity for food vendors and tourism businesses.
And the flow-on effects continue, with other businesses in the main street being inspired to give their storefronts a facelift, and developing plans to take advantage of the increased foot traffic during events.
This project is the perfect example of a place pulling together to create something wonderful that will benefit everyone in the community.
I am so proud of the people of Grafton for making this happen. It just goes to show what happens when a community commits itself to a simple idea, is patient, and is open to bringing all and any new partners into the project.
Want to see what all the fuss is about for yourself? On Friday, Aug. 7, the Main Street Deck will receive it’s official unveiling as part of Grafton’s First Friday festivities.
Get along. You’ll have a blast.