Downtown programs highlighted at annual meeting
by Anna Oakes
The Downtown Boone Development Association held its annual meeting Tuesday, providing updates to members on downtown programs, capital improvements and future plans.
The town of Boone contracts with the DBDA, a nonprofit, for administration of downtown tax revenues. The downtown coordinator is a Boone town employee.
Virginia Falck, downtown coordinator, told members that the Jones House Community Center on King Street will be open the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving, providing public restrooms and downtown information to holiday shoppers.
In addition, the DBDA is working with the Watauga County Cooperative Extension to place downtown brochures at area Choose & Cut Christmas tree farms.
In a partnership with the Watauga County Public Library, the DBDA is planning a new program called "Story Walk." Pages of a children's story will be posted in the store windows of several downtown establishments, facilitating a walking tour of downtown businesses that families can enjoy together.
Falck said she is also working to revive a fašade grant program for downtown Boone, which would provide assistance to businesses seeking to improve their storefronts.
John Cooper, chairman of the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country, provided an update on the ongoing fundraising campaign and plans for renovation of the Appalachian Theatre on King Street. Cooper said fundraising efforts are going well as part of the silent phase of the capital campaign.
"It's got good bones. It's built to stay," he said about the facility, noting plans to enlarge the theater's stage.
Andy Stallings and Robb Olsen were nominated for re-election to three-year terms on the DBDA board. Falck said Thursday that she is still collecting ballots from DBDA members. Also open is a board seat vacated by Jason Berry with 10 months remaining in the term.
"We hope to fill this spot at our next DBDA board meeting on Sept. 5," Falck said.
Dan Stoger attended the meeting and encouraged downtown merchants to retrofit their buildings to allow for greater accessibility by the disabled and elderly.
Jean Borhman, owner of Char, asked about the status of Howard Street improvements. Boone Cultural Resources Director Pilar Fotta said the town and DBDA are currently exploring funding options for a traffic study before proceeding with recommended streetscape improvements, including designated pedestrian areas and a possible one-way traffic direction on Howard Street between Depot and Appalachian streets.