Cooperate and collaborate

St. Clairsville officials and Belmont County commissioners are off to a good start in a plan to freshen up the appearance of the city’s downtown business district.

Located in the middle of the district high atop a hill on Main Street, the courthouse was renovated extensively over the past year. That prompted commissioners to consider the need to upgrade the plaza in front of it as well.

As it is now, the plaza is an attractive area featuring a few small trees, monuments and signs marking historically significant aspects of the area. The plaza is a hub of activity as people come and go from the courthouse on various types of business. It also welcomes those who visit the adjacent Sheriff’s Residence Museum. The plaza is a center of holiday festivities for the city, which annually erects a Christmas tree on the site and holds a parade along Main Street and other activities in front of the courthouse to ring in the season.

But brick and concrete in the plaza are showing their age. Heavy equipment used on the courthouse damaged some of the bricks.

To their credit, commissioners’ first stop in planning work on the plaza was a meeting with city officials and a landscape architect. As Commissioner J.P. Dutton explained, the idea is to ensure that whatever brick is chosen for the plaza fits in with the city’s plan for elsewhere in the business district. “We want to make sure we’re in lockstep with the city,” Dutton added.

Good. Now, city officials should ensure they are in lockstep – or as near to that as possible – with downtown property owners.

Plans for a business district facelift are in the preliminary stages. Replacing some sidewalks and trees has been discussed.

The hope is to “spruce up the whole downtown area,” Mayor Terry Pugh noted. He added that one goal is to get property owners to cooperate with the plan.

No dramatic changes in the business district appear to be under consideration. Still, even the small things, such as what material to use in replacing sidewalks, can be controversial.

In moving forward, then, St. Clairsville officials should use public meetings and individual contacts to come to a consensus on the downtown plan.

Getting everyone on the same page will be important in making the initiative a success.