South Charlotte

Downtown just misses state aid, soldiers on

Though Pineville officials recently found out they weren't selected for the N.C. Small Town Main Street Program, they're still taking steps to improve downtown.

In May, the town applied for the state Small Town program, an initiative of the N.C. Department of Commerce designed to revitalize small towns with a population of 7,500 or less. The program provides consultants who meet with town officials, residents and business owners once a week for a year.

The consultants and the town then would work together to develop a vision for the downtown.

Town Manager Mike Rose said Pineville wasn't selected because its population - right at 7,500 - was at the cutoff. Bessemer City, population 5,592, and Troutman, 1,592, were selected.

Program officials suggested Pineville apply for the N.C. Main Street Program, for larger towns. Pineville likely will, said Town Clerk Barbara Monticello, but those program participants won't be decided for another year and a half. In the meantime, officials have ideas for revitalization efforts.

One option is the N.C. Downtown Development Association. If Pineville joins - cost: about $150 - a technical team would analyze Pineville's downtown district for a couple days, then help town officials develop a plan. For an additional $150 to $200, the town could get a full economic report, said Monticello.

The only setback is the town must have a staff manager solely for the downtown area, which it doesn't yet but is considering, she said.

Pineville has made many improvements in the past two years, including new sidewalks, trees, a new police department building and a renovated baseball park. To improve the area further, Monticello said, it needs to piggyback on the success of the ballpark and new farmer's market, creating more activity downtown.

"We are looking into what our next steps will be," said Rose. "I know we will continue to move forward."