Today was an interesting day so I decided to write about it!
I went to Main Street in Littleton, New Hampshire. Hadn't been their in awhile and the place was a direct and graphic representation of the economy in northern New Hampshire. And the scene is on both sides of the street. Stores closed, stores for lease and most prominently, stores covered up by newspapers and colored paper. And though not as bad as places like Lawrence and Lowell I think anyone who drives by could describe this main street by one word. Despair.
But there is one beacon of optimism in this area and this is the presence of the award winning Peabody & Smith Realty Company; and their distinctive green and white signs. In addition to winning many real estate awards the Peabody & Smith Realty Company is an affiliate of the Southeby's and I've even some of their property listings in the Wall Street Journal newspaper. So as I surveyed the area which was once the centerpoint of this community, I could only guess what could happen next. And these possibilities included: an improving local economy, an increase in real estate sales, the growth and possible return to local community and the ever present green word. Think tourism in downtown Littleton!
I'm skeptical that any of this is going to happen.
Does Main Street have a value?
The voters of Littleton recently approved a substantial warrant article authorizing for the reconstruction and improvement of main street. This has been a project at least ten years in the making. Architectural plans, green spaces and thoughtful municipal planning are all components of this project which, when completed will certainly look the part of an improved and revitalized downtown Littleton, New Hampshire. I'm confident that when the construction is completed there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony. I'm picturing Governor Lynch, DOT Commissioner George Campbell a large pair of scissors and several smiling members of the Chamber of Commerce. The Governor will smile for the cameras and say something appropriate. At least he won't say mission accomplished.
But when the band stops playing the dust settles and a reconstructed main street settles into the daily life do the trees and pleasant facade really change anything? Does the presence of a revitalized main street change or alter the difficult economic realities in northern New Hampshire? A reality that shows declining personal incomes, declining jobs and published statistical facts that show shoppers would rather go to Walmart than park on main street and pay a higher price to a local merchant.
Does your community have a Main Street and does it have a value?
The Littleton project will proceed. Only time will tell if it is to be successful or not. Local proponents of the taxpayer financed project argue investing in main street is a good investment and their battle is a battle that is worth fighting.
Is it worth fighting in your community?