By Fred Arnold Telescope Publisher
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A step has been taken toward the revitalization of Belleville’s downtown. A big step. According to Belleville Chamber & Main Street director Waylon Sheetz, it’s a huge step.
Sheetz said his office was notified last week that Belleville has been designated a 2020 Accredited Main Street America Program. The designation signifies a commitment by a district, in this case, Belleville, toward commercial district revitalization.
“This is big,” he said. “ This opens a lot of doors for what downtown Bellville can become.”
“We lost an entire city block due to neglect a few years ago, and unfortunately, that had to happen to give a wakeup call to the rest of the community leaders that something needed to be done,” the Chamber & Main Street director added.
Sheetz said none of this would have been possible if it weren’t for Kansas’ commitment to reinstating the program, which went dormant under then Gov. San Brownback, with a state director who is recommending communities on a national level. The program was re-funded by current Gov. Laura Kelly.
“This also means that Belleville Main Street has been working hard the past couple of years to breathe some fresh air into downtown and begin work on downtown revitalization,” Sheetz said.
Sheetz gives what he said is much-deserved credit to the Dane G. Hansen Foundation for helping fund an internship to do hire an intern for the summer who will help map out and develop plans for downtown Belleville. “We are also working on getting our designation as a registered historic preservation district with the state and nation,” he said.
“This will help financially to maintain our downtown buildings and enhance our overall appearance,” he added. “Belleville has a beautiful downtown, and we want to keep it that way. The more we talk about downtown, the more we are aware of the need to preserve our history and gorgeous architecture.”
Having the national designation is just a small stepping stone in the vision and goals of the Belleville Chamber & Main Street, Sheetz noted. He said that while Main Street went away for a while, he believes the program is here to stay.
“People are going to see the results of tireless work and effort in the years to come, Sheetz said.
“I am excited to see the state program working so actively to assist our local programs and am hopeful the statehouse will see the fruits of this decision long term.”