More dynamic Main Street in Avon’s future?
Avon leaders say connections –other than roads – between The Home Depot and Wal-Mart Supercenter in the Village at Avon are the most important piece of the town’s fuzzy economic puzzle.
“We need to devise a plan to get shoppers from Wal-Mart to Avon,” Councilman Mac McDevitt says. “We need to start looking at that within the next month.”
The Town Council is considering everything from extending the two free buses that circle the town, to encouraging The Home Depot and Wal-Mart to offer coupons to Avon shops on shoppers’ receipts.
“We need to say to the customers, “If you can’t get a Nepalese lunch buffet in your town, try ours,'” Councilman Pete Buckley says, referring to Narayan’s Nepalese restaurant in the Christy Lodge.
An Avon business, however, doesn’t need coupons printed on receipts to offer big-box customers discounts, Councilman Ron Wolfe says.
“Even if the (big boxes) are not interested, I think merchants, with the help of the town, will still do promotion,” Wolfe says.
An ambitious project town leaders have envisioned is paving a street that would run from Nottingham Lake to The Home Depot and Wal-Mart. McDevitt says it’s time for town leaders to find out if residents and merchants think such a “Main Street” is a good idea – if it’s even possible to build.
Regardless, the town has to do something about its winding, hard-to-navigate streets, Councilman Brian Sipes says.
“Do we want to be a town of cul-de-sacs or a town of multiple connection points?” Sipes says.
“One of the things we heard during the campaign last fall is Avon lacks focus,” he adds. “There is no town center, no square, no icon the makes people think about Avon. People think it’s all parking lots and buildings.”
If The Home Depot’s and Wal-Mart’s customers don’t have easy access to the rest of town, they’re likely to get back on Interstate 70 or U.S. Highway 6 without spending money anywhere else, town leaders have said.
Another economic priority for Avon is to cooperate with other valley towns on promoting tourism. But the town also has problems to take care of on its own, McDevitt says.
“There are things we need to do by ourselves to make it more attractive for shopping,” McDevitt says.
The town also can no longer be complacent about empty store fronts, McDevitt says.
Wolfe say he is now hoping to form a group that will hammer out a “vision” for Avon’s future. Such a vision would not be binding, but would be a guide the Town Council would expect future development projects would adhere to, Wolfe says.
The group will perhaps comprise a town council member, a town employee, a business owner and a resident. Other council members are skeptical about the group, saying it will only work if its a grass roots effort with little interference from either the council or the town government.
“I’d like to see it be a little less heavy in terms of council, I’d like to see it as a grass roots kind of thing,” Councilwoman Debbie Buckley says.
Wolfe says forming such a group is vital to the town’s future.
“We have a mission for town government,” Wolfe says, “but we don’t have a vision for the town.”
Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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