FAIRMONT — The coronavirus pandemic has led to less foot traffic and revenue for local businesses since many had to close for safety reasons.
At Tuesday’s meeting of Fairmont City Council, Tim Liebrecht, executive director of Main Street Fairmont, shared some initiatives the nonprofit is working on to help drive customer traffic to businesses while remaining safe amid the pandemic.
“People coming to downtown is much lower than it normally is,” Liebrecht said. “The more people we bring down here the better, because it’s only going to drive people coming.”
Some ideas Liebrecht brought up in his presentation included the ongoing Drive for 25 campaign, in which an online contest has people go to downtown Fairmont to snap a photo for a certain hint each week, as well as a new idea in “Hometown Saturdays,” for which food trucks will park downtown to bring more people in for both the food and local businesses. Each proposal includes plans for social distancing.
“The idea is essentially to create a hub and a walkable space where people don’t have to gather,” Liebrecht said. “People would go down here for the increased food trucks and the restaurants and the different things that are downtown, and encourage them to walk that stretch of Adams Street, walk down to Palatine Park and engage with all of the things that are around in this area.”
Fairmont City Manager Valerie Means also said the city was applying for a $1.4 million grant to round out the Rail Trail around the West Fork River to the Watson Bridge to Madison Street, bringing the city’s part of the statewide project closer to completion.
“With funding like that we would really be able to do what we want to do especially in that first section,” Means said.
Means said improving the Rail Trail in Fairmont would be a boost to economic potential as well, seeing that it is planned to run all the way from Parkersburg to Pittsburgh.
“It’s a tourist attraction, something for our folks to do,” Means said. “Things like trails just really bring a lot of folks into the community, plus gives our own community people something to look forward to and something to do.”
Also at the meeting, Fairmont State University Chair of Architecture, Art and Design Joel Dugan updated council on the progress of the mural at Palatine Park. Council members reacted positively to the progress he and students have made on painting the five figures on the wall, and said this collaboration could lead to future art projects with the university as well.
Also at the meeting, Mayor Brad Merrifield read a proclamation commemorating the anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War, as two veterans accepted on behalf of the VFW Post 629.