Workshop invites input to town’s future plan
by Carrie C. Causey
YOUNGSVILLE — Residents crowded the town’s community house June 27 to share ideas about how they envision the future of Youngsville.
For some, it’s a bypass cutting traffic downtown to keep the small-town feel. For others, it’s adding an ice cream shop, more sit-down restaurants and having a more vibrant downtown to invite progress and visitors. But the overall challenge will be to blend historic Youngsville with the growth they know is coming.
Thursday night’s informal workshop was hosted by town commissioners, the Community Advancement Program (CAP) as well as interns Eric Breit and Robert Looysen. The graduate students from NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill respectively have been hired by the town to come up with an economic development plan for what Youngsville can do in the short-term and long-term to make the town the way the residents want to see it.
Attendees weighed in — on traffic patterns, businesses they’d like to see, pedestrian and bike paths and keeping the history alive, among other topics.
“We want to get a feel for what the community wants,” Looysen said of holding the meeting. “We want to know about accessibility, traffic issues, problems they see.”
Commissioner Cat Redd had previously been trying to plan for the future through her initiatives like CAP as well as coming up with a comprehensive development plan.
“We already were going forward, now we have the momentum,” she said. “Before we were shooting in the dark. Now we have more than one thing going.”
She’s referring to the board’s efforts in discussion for the future, hiring the interns and teaming with the county’s economic development commission to talk about grants for refurbishing town buildings.
Plus, the contractors are also working with the Wake Forest interns to come up with a plan that works for both towns. Instead of being in competition, they are hoping to find ways to work together, such as Wake Forest incubating a business to the point it needs more space and that’s where Youngsville’s downtown can fill in the gap.
Some things residents brought up could be a quick fix compared to long-term ideas that will take years to implement. Lee Price is tired of seeing the broken windows on Main Street.
“I hate that it makes it look so bad,” she said. “But the store owners can’t afford to fix it. I’m wondering if the town could do something like have a bake sale and not something in the financial budget from taxpayer money.”
George Rocebeck moved to the area last October from New York and joined the revitalization group. He chose to move to Youngsville over Wake Forest where he also has family and said he sees the potential the town has for its growth and opportunities.
His largest concern is the need for “overall improvement and modification” and the need for general sprucing up.
Redd said she hopes to enlist residents and groups like the Woman’s Club, Youngsville Area Business Association and the Kiwanis Club to create a synergy to start knocking out short-term items.
The problem is, the town wouldn’t be able to fund them. One suggestion was to put a request in some of the town mailings asking for donations to help pay for the projects.
“It takes effort by the people, not just the board,” Mayor Sam Hardwick said. “We need total commitment.”
“Financially, the next step will be the hardest,” he said of implementation, “but if we have a vision and a plan, the rest will fall into place.”
What to put where
Some thoughts were about new additions residents would like to see. They include traffic circles in lieu of a bypass or bike and pedestrian paths, plus new types of commerce.
Resident Keith Falt said he loves Youngsville, but downtown has “slipped” and needs revitalization. He likes the idea of having a plan so that new businesses come in, but it should be the kind of business “people want,” rather than perhaps a lot of “fast food joints.”
“That may be better than nothing, but it’s not what people would choose,” he said.
Resident Angela Murphy works with historic preservation and would like it to have its historic feel and not be a hodgepodge of things.
“They need a master plan,” Murphy said. “But it can’t be too restrictive or people won’t want it for anything.”
Tracey Tsantles brought some of her children, including her daughter Allyson Tsantles, to offer their own opinions.
Tracey said she saw the notice about the Envision Youngsville workshop and wanted to see what it was about because she is excited about the idea.
An ice cream shop or toy store were two of the top priorities for the other youngsters. Tracey also hopes for a consignment shop or books store.
Price also hopes to see more restaurants, being tired of the “same old thing.” But like many prospective owners before her, she worries they wouldn’t receive enough business to support it. But that’s OK, because she is happy with Youngsville as it is now.
“That would be nice, but I’ve been very happy living here the last 12 years,” Price said, mentioning the addition of new gas stations and grocery stores. “We’ve got lots of stuff.”
Tracey Tsantle agrees that the current state is good just needs a facelift.
“We like the architecture and buildings,” Tracey Tsantle said. “It has a lot of character.”
Allyson said they enjoy going to other small downtowns and remember the flowers and colors which make them memorable. She said simple things like planting trees or adding new paint could make the difference.
“It’s the little touches,” Tracey agreed, “that will get people to want to come downtown.”