B y Bill Toscano
A proposal by the Granville Chamber of Commerce to radically change the look of Main Street has not gone beyond the early planning stages, but it’s already drawing strong opinions from downtown merchants.
“I think it would be an awesome idea,” Shelly Reed, who owns Happy Daze Pub with her husband Scott, said of the proposal to cut down some or all the pear trees lining Main Street and replace them with planters filled with smaller trees and flowers.
“The trees were an awesome idea, but they have outgrown the buildings,” she said. “I look out my front window, and I can’t see O’Callahan’s right across the street. People tell me they come down the street and cannot see our signs.”
But on the other side of Main Street, Tom Scott of Scottie’s Restaurant stands strongly against the idea.
“It makes no sense,” he said. “We’ve got these beautiful trees. Why would we take them down? There are a lot of leaves on them now, but that’s not always the case.”
Granville Village Mayor Brian LaRose said any decision would have to go through the village Board of Trustees. He said Charlie King, the president of the chamber, approached him with the design idea, but said it had been a “brief discussion,” and that the board would need a well-developed plan – and some agreement from downtown business owners.
“We cannot act until we see a drafted plan,” LaRose said. “I suggested to Mr. King he talk to the storeowners and get a general opinion.
“We want to make sure everyone has a say in the plan,” LaRose added. “It’s not a decision the chamber can make solely or that the village board can make solely.
Time to consider
Mary King, a spokeswoman for the chamber and the wife of president Charlie King, said she hopes people will take some time to consider the option of opening things up a little downtown.
“The trees were never supposed to be this big,” Mary King said. “They’re blocking the storefronts, and you cannot see the buildings. There are a ton of pluses to having the planters. They would be easier to maintain, and people would be able to see the signs and the storefronts.”
One of the other aspects of the proposals would be to have local artists decorate the concrete planters. “They wouldn’t necessarily have to be painted. They could have mosaics or so many other things on them. It could be a real community project.”
Mary King said the chamber had originally hoped to initiate the process this year, but at this point, the group is most likely looking at next year.
Origin of idea
Denise Davies, a chamber board member, said the idea started at a business meeting, developed slowly, then picked up steam.
“It was one of those things where we were sitting around talking about how we could improve the look of downtown,” said Davies, who is now the village’s clerk-treasurer and used to own a downtown florist shop. “The trees were much smaller 20 years ago, and around that time they were kept pruned and maintained. That’s not an easy thing to do. Some of them have gotten overgrown, and some are in really bad shape.
“The height of the planters would be better, and combining it with the art project would really make it pop,” Davies added. “You look at downtowns like Lake Placid and Saratoga Springs, and you see how that can make a difference.”
Ralph Kreuger is heading the downtown beautification committee, and Bill Brassard is the artist coordinating the plan.
Davies said the chamber is not necessarily looking at cutting down all the trees.
“Some are healthy, some are damaged,” she said. “A business owner could choose to keep the trees in front of the business.
“It needs to look correct, and it needs balance,” she added. “You want Main Street to look attractive.”