Downtown La Grange
sets goals for growth
Helen E. McKinney
LA GRANGE, Ky. (March 2005) La Grange is the
largest city in Oldham County and the county seat. It houses the county
government offices, planning and zoning and the county clerks
office. This hubbub of the county is the place where everything comes
together and moves ahead.
by Don Ward
Street Program members say they are holding off applying for grants
until the train redesign issue is settled.
The county was established in 1824 and three years later,
resident William Berry Taylor offered a 50-acre tract of land for a
new county seat at the crossroads of two of the countys most important
routes: the Westport-Shelbyville and Louisville-New Castle roads. For
this reason, the town was formerly known as Crossroads.
Due to its proximity to Louisville, the county has continued to grow
steadily and this increased population and economic expansion are factors
taken into consideration by Discover Downtown La Grange (formerly Crossroads
La Grange Main Street Program).
History tends to repeat itself. La Grange is at a crossroads.
We are facing the railroad upgrade as well as the many changes that
are taking place due to increased population, said Discover Downtown
La Grange Main Street Director Keli Quinn. She believes the input and
involvement of local citizens and businesses is needed now more than
ever for La Grange to remain an economically viable city and a great
place to live.
We need to make changes, but we also need to preserve our downtowns
unique heritage. Thats our focus, said Quinn.
The name change came about a couple of months ago because the program
needed a name that was more action-oriented, said Quinn. She also wants
the public to know that the program encompasses the entire downtown
Renaissance District, not just Main Street.
Discover Downtown La Grange promotes the continued revitalization
of downtown La Grange in the context of historic preservation. It is
a member of Kentuckys Main Street Program, which falls under Renaissance
Renaissance Kentucky is a program instituted by former Gov. Paul Patton
to channel funding into smaller downtown areas. Recent changes in the
states Renaissance program will require Discover Downtown La Grange
to do more in the area of job creation and retention. It is often the
catalyst to create and manage new public improvement projects that enhance
the downtown community.
Discover Downtown La Grange officials would like to see the downtown
area maintain a good balance of offerings for retail shoppers. Several
new events have been planned to draw interest to the area for visitors
to discover this crossroads.
One new event is The Spirits of La Grange Ghost Tours, which
returns this spring by popular demand. The ghost tours will be held
every Friday in April and May, and each tour lasts approximately 90
minutes. Participants visit the inside of two of the most popular sites,
The Garden Party, a former funeral home location on Main Street, and
Christmas in Kentucky, the circa 1840 home of William Berry Taylor on
Discover Downtown La Grange will launch an expanded farmers
market on the courthouse square every Saturday in June, with hours from
8 a.m. to noon. The market, which will run until October, will offer
produce grown within 60 miles of La Grange, Quinn said. She hopes this
will be an effective way to support local businesses and farmers. Producers
and growers can participate in the market by invitation only to ensure
a fair offering of available products.
Quinn spoke to other Main Street managers within the state to get advice
and ideas. She visited the Highlands Market in Louisville, a successful
market with a long history. I felt the community was ready for
a market, said Quinn.
Discover Downtown La Grange is working in conjunction with the Oldham
County Arts Association to set up a smaller version of the market during
the Saturday morning of the highly popular Arts on the Green juried
art show June 4-5. In addition to creating new events, Downtown La Grange
also promotes existing events, such as the Arts on the Green and current
exhibits at the Oldham County History Center.
A new website for Discover Downtown La Grange will soon be up that states
the groups goals, volunteer opportunities, a calendar for community
information, shopping and dinning guides, historic sites and points
In the past, Renaissance cities were classified as gold, silver or bronze,
and funding was allocated according to these levels. With the states
newly restructured Renaissance program, Renaissance on Main cities will
either be certified or not certified, said Quinn. Allocations of money
will become more competitive among the certified cities.
Karen Eldridge, chairperson for the La Grange Main Street Program, said
Discover Downtown La Grange hasnt needed to apply for many grants
yet. Were not taking on any large project until the railroad redesign
and renovation is finished, she said.
La Grange was classified as a silver city. Discover Downtown La Grange
can apply for different grants, but it will not necessarily receive
money through the Renaissance Program. We can get grants, but
Renaissance funds are a separate issue, said Eldridge.
A Farmers Market committee will seek grants to aid with creating
a structure for the market. Discover Downtown La Grange officials in
March will give a presentation about the Farmers Market to the
La Grange City Council.
A retail market study was conducted three years ago by graduate students
from Bellarmine University in Louisville to help determine what types
of businesses would enhance the downtown area. The La Grange Business
Association has discussed and suggested the following businesses: fabric
shop, jewelry store, ice cream parlor, more restaurants, a train and
hobby shop, garden store, and children and womens apparel.
Eldridge said members of Discover Downtown La Grange are looking forward
to having a variety of business in the downtown area. Events like the
Farmers Market are a good addition to what we already have,
she said. It will expand and aid in economic growth.
For more information, contact Keli Quinn
at (502) 269-0126 or KQuinn@DiscoverDowntownLaGrange.com.
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