Signs of a downtown revitalization are now emerging as the West Jefferson Community Partnership celebrated the completion of the WJ BackStreet Park on Monday with a plaque presentation.
The plaque celebrates the culmination of the park’s completion which featured three phases. The first phase (the park’s construction) was completed in 2007 and was followed by Phase II, which was completed in early 2008. Phase III is now completed and was successful in raising over $13,000 to combine with North Carolina STEP funds, Partnership President Phil McMillan explained. It included the addition of a performance stage to the park, surfacing the path that connects the park to the library, and the completion of a parking lot adjacent to the park.
McMillan stated that the final bronze plaque will be placed to recognize the donations received for the second and third phases of the project. Monday’s presentation was held to honor these contributors.
“The Reeves Law Firm, Ashe County Home Builders Association, and Ashe Woodworking, Inc. made significant contributions to complete Phase II of the park, but the contributions were too late to be included on the original set of commemorative plaques placed in the park,” McMillan stated in a press release. “Those contributors have been very patient with the Partnership regarding formal recognition of their contributions. So, the Partnership felt those contributors should receive special recognition via presentation of the final plaque.”
The park, which is located on the corner of Backstreet and W. Main Street, is used for the partnership’s annual Concert in the Park series and is frequented during the Christmas in July, Festival Latinos, and Hometown Christmas festivals.
“The park is heavily used by numerous local festivals,” McMillan said. “And the path up to the library has been heavily used, actually more than we anticipated. It is not unusual to see folks who picked up a pizza from Brickstone over here eating.”
The concept of a downtown park was developed by WJ Partnership members who wanted to give the public visualization, or a glimpse, of what aesthetic changes they intend to bring to downtown West Jefferson. McMillan explained that these changes are part of the partnership’s revitalization process for the town.
“We were looking for something to give a visual to residents and visitors alike that something is happening here. Our long term goal is to change the whole look of the downtown area,” McMillan stated.
To reach the WJ Community Partnership, please send all inquiries to P.O. Box 646, West Jefferson 28694.