Main Street revitalization to take time, officials say

 

Revitalizing Yukon’s historic Main Street will not happen overnight. It will take effort and the community joining together,

Kelli Yandon, a program coordinator for the Oklahom Main Street Program, discusses the benefits of the program with Yukon residents during a forum Thursday. This event focused on efforts to revitalized Yukon’s Main Street corridor, which sits on Route 66. Photo / Terry Groover

officials with the Oklahoma Main Street Program said last week.

The effort begins with identifying the needs of the community, said Kelli Yandon, a program coordinator for the Oklahoma Main Street Program.

About 40 or so business owners, or those who have an interest in downtown Yukon, attended a public forum Thursday at First Christian Church during which the restoration of Yukon’s Main Street was the focus.

Those attending were asked to answer questions, such as why the historic district is special, what activities and businesses can be enjoyed and what should the area to be like in 10 years.

The answers provided a diverse range of views, though there were some that were consistent.

Many participants said they wanted a wholesome family atmosphere, while others wanted a place where all people could go and have fun.

There also were suggestions that downtown needs a better night life, one in which businesses didn’t close before 9 p.m., especially on the weekends.

Participants also wanted an area that was clean, safe, attractive and inviting, with people walking downtown and window shopping.

The lack of available parking, however, is a concern, they said.

Other said there needed to be a return of Yukon’s “old-town charm.”

This is the second session of Yukon’s 66 Main Street program, which was revitalized last year with the hiring of Vicki Davis as director of the program.

Davis said the task of revitalizing downtown Yukon is exciting, but also is challenging.

“It is always important to bring visibility to an area, specifically those that are smaller businesses that don’t have national names attached,” she said.

The group plans to focus on four points, which include: building a diverse economic base, creating an inviting and inclusive atmosphere, building leadership and strong organizational capacity and marketing the district’s defining assets.

“It is a comprehensive approach that is incremental,” said Buffy Hughes, director of the state Main Street program. “It’s a little bit at a time.”

Davis said that means not only recruiting new businesses to Main Street, but also supporting those businesses that already are in place.

“We want to make sure they are aware of what we have to offer from our Main Street businesses,” Davis said.

Yukon’s Main Street has one significant asset that many communities don’t. It also is on Route 66, drawing thousands of tourists each year.

Hughes and Davis both said it is important for Yukon to capitalize on that asset to revitalize Main Street.

“It won’t be exactly as it was. It’s not feasible that we would have the same businesses or the same industries. We find adaptive uses and we find businesses that are going to be a part of the business cluster or perhaps be something that is otherwise not represented,” Davis said.

 

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