Once known as a sleepy hamlet with a budding industrial sector, the town of West Jefferson has since reinvented itself by the way of a thriving arts district along with a well-manicured main street that epitomizes Americana charm.
The town hopes to solidify its reputation as a ‘must see’ travel destination with a $50,000 grant to further enhance its aesthetic appeal.
Last week, the town learned it would be the recipient of the grant from the Rural Economic Division of the N.C. Department of Commerce.
West Jefferson is one of approximately 10 communities to receive such a grant, according to Mayor Dale Baldwin. Blowing Rock also received funds for beautification projects.
Before town officials can officially accept the funds, however, they must first complete a form that best describes what the money will be used for.
“We can do whatever we want with it; no strings attached,” said Baldwin.
West Jefferson’s downtown makeover has been a work in progress since 2011 when the town began replacing Jefferson Avenue’s stop lights with four-way stops. The intersection improvements also included ‘bump-outs’ on the corners, which made it easier for pedestrians to cross the street. The curb extensions also spruced up the intersection’s former drab corners. Art installations in town, including the painting of several murals, have accentuated the town’s appeal.
Although it is uncertain what specifically the funds will be used for, Baldwin anticipates aldermen will discuss possibilities during the August 7 meeting.
Downtown revitalization project can include:
•Planning costs that will produce a final plan for physical improvements, including architectural and engineering designs.
•Streetscape design and implementation.
•Public infrastructure including water, sewer, electric, lighting, sidewalk, traffic, road and digital infrastructure improvements.
•Façade and building improvements and/or property acquisition.
•Art or cultural installations.
Reach Jesse Campbell at (336) 846-7164.