Grange group wants city
to be considered for Renaissance grant
Helen E. McKinney,
(June, 2002) LA GRANGE, Ky. When Elsie Carter opened
her Garden Party Restaurant in La Grange 12 years ago, she says there
was nothing else on Main Street at the time.
Things are about to change. Several business owners and concerned citizens
think the entire downtown area could be revitalized with help from the
Kentucky Renaissance Program. The project assists towns financially
by providing a variety of options to pay for renovation efforts.
Carter had opened her restaurant at the suggestion of
Bill Lammlein. At the time, the Robins Nest restaurant had closed,
and Main Street looked somewhat deserted.
Following her lead, different shops were soon established in the space
above Carters restaurant. Eventually, these shop owners branched
out into buildings on Main Street, filling up vacancies.
Carter, who also lives in the same building as her restaurant, said
she spent a lot of money to renovate the building. Now she would like
to see money become available so that other businesses on Main Street
can be spruced up.
Carter said she would like to see the buildings renovated to look
like they did in the 1880s, when many of them were built. She
said she would also like to see a park area incorporated into the final
Cities can be accepted into the Renaissance Program at one of three
levels: silver, gold, or bronze. The levels denote how much money will
be given to the city.
Lammlein said he hopes La Grange will be entered into the program at
the gold level because the funding levels are higher per year
than at the silver level.
An eight-person Renais-sance Committee has been created to establish
what criteria La Grange already has and what needs to be implemented
to make it eligible for the project.
A lot goes into it, said Carter of the application process.
But she hopes the community will share the end result.
She said community involvement is important. If you dont
have their input, you dont have anything.
Carter said she would encourage citizens to come forward with suggestions
on what improvements can be made and present these to the Renaissance
Committee. The committee was appointed by Mayor Nancy Steele and is
comprised of downtown business owners Lammlein, Linda Foster and Karen
Eldridge; Oldham County History Center Co-Director Anita Fritz; City
Council members Joe Davenport and Carter; Chamber of Commerce president
Joe Schoenbaechler; and City Clerk Zella Smith.
Schoenbaechler said the recent participation of La Grange in the program
provides the opportunity for the community to come together and discuss
a plan of action.
One goal of the committee is to expand the area and bring it together
visually, said Schoenbaechler. We dont want visitors
to stay on one block, but also cross the street, where they will
find a diversity of businesses all within close proximity of one another.
Lammlein said completion of this project should bring more business
and tourism into the downtown area. He is an architectural designer
and his business, W.J.L. Design, has been on Main Street for 16 years.
Kitty Bierbaum is another business owner on Main Street who thinks her
business, Old Oak Frame House, could only be improved by the project.
It will bring a lot of variety to the area, she said.
The area to be refurbished would include not just the historic
district, said Carter. A large area, almost to the city
hall would be under consideration.
Lammlein said he photographed every structure to be included in the
Renaissance Program. There are approximately 300 properties. Numerous
pages of paperwork must be filled out in order to meet the July 2 application
One project that would be considered is the renovation of the Little
Blue House, which sits across the alley behind Carters property.
Carter said there are unlimited uses for it, such as installing an ATM
and phones inside of it.
Lammlein said the building, could also be equipped with two handicap-accessible
restrooms and a small office for a Main Street manager.
Carter said inclusion in this project would help people in the town
and the county to see that the more you use it (the town), the
bigger and better it gets.
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