EDBA gearing up for big year downtown

By Rozella Hardin

   The Elizabethton Downtown Business Association is gearing up for a big year and a busy year with a lot of changes and improvements in the works.
   In a meeting Friday morning, President John Bunn said John Huber, who is active in the organization and who serves as chairman of the EDBA's Lighting and Planters Committee, is available to speak to civic clubs and other organizations about proposed plans for the downtown.
   Bunn said 20 new planters will be built in the downtown -- 13 large planters, which will cost approximately $1,000 each, and seven smaller planters at $700 each. "Three businesses have already committed to paying for a planter, and we hope others as well as individuals will commit to paying for the cost of a planter," Bunn said.
   The trees in the downtown have been cut, and the stumps are being removed in preparation for the construction of the new planters.
   Also, Bunn said approximately $30,000 will be needed for the new lighting projects. The lights will cost approximately $250 each for 100 fixtures in addition to costs for iron scrolls and rosettes, which will be attached to the street canopy.
   "Overall, we are looking at approximately $50,000 to $60,000 in aesthetic improvements for the downtown," Bunn said.
   He also reported on a meeting he and others had recently with the Carter County Car Club. Plans are being worked out for the Car Club to have a show each Saturday evening in the downtown business district, beginning the first Saturday in April and continuing through the end of October. "The event will be coordinated by the Car Club, the EDBA and the Chamber of Commerce, and it is something we are very excited about as are the Car Club people," Bunn said.
   He said it is hoped that one Saturday out of the month, downtown businesses will be open late for the convenience of the car club people as well as people who come downtown. The city will help by placing signage at the entrance to town, calling attention to the weekly car shows.
   Also, the Car Club folks have indicated they will have a big show in downtown on the Saturday prior to the annual Covered Bridge Celebration, beginning at 1 p.m. During the six months that the car show will be staged downtown, Elk Avenue will be closed at 4:30 p.m. each Saturday. Maps will be provided to show where parking is available.
   Bunn said the group is working to get E Street involved. "We hope to put a cluster of speakers on that street so that the sound can be adequately delivered over there. Eventually, we hope to have speakers on the east end of Elk Avenue," he explained.
   Members of the group briefly discussed new businesses proposed for the west end of town, namely the Wal-Mart Supercenter and Lowe's. "This will change things with people in the downtown. It does not mean death to the downtown, but it does mean that we will have to do our job better, and it means change for us," said Darrell Cannon of Cannon Appliances.
   Joe Alexander of Alexander Insurance Agency said the Chamber had mentioned pursuing two-way traffic for the downtown. "It is a hot issue, and people get real emotional about it. It has its pluses. It can increase accessibility to the downtown. While I favor it, two-way traffic in the downtown is something we need to approach carefully and thoughtfully," he opined.
   The group voted to retain the same slate of officers for the coming year so as to keep a consistency while changes are being made downtown.
   Bunn appointed David Pinckard as head of the block captains. He asked Pinckard to find someone who will service each block.
   It was also announced that membership fees are now due and can be paid at any time. "We need to reach out to other businesses and individuals, who are located on the fringes of the downtown as well as in other segments of the community. Downtown belongs to everyone, and every donation we receive is an investment in the downtown," Bunn said.
   The February meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 19, at 5:30 p.m. at The Coffee Company.