The long awaited Main Street Plaza has been completed and is one of the “key ideas” of the Town of Silver City’s Downtown Action Plan. Ten years in the making, it took support and funding from the Town of Silver City, state capital outlay funds from legislators Rudy Martinez, Rebecca Dow and Gabe Ramos, Freeport McMoRan Community Foundation funds, and NM MainStreet capital outlay funds to complete the project located between 7th and 8th Streets just off of Bullard Street. Silver City MainStreet is grateful to all of these organizations and the many people who worked hard over the years to make the Plaza a reality.
The Main Street Plaza, a community and economic development project, is so named because it is on the last downtown remnant of our original Main Street before it became the Big Ditch Park. The Plaza includes a festive lighted entrance off of 7th Street next to Adobe Springs Cafe, public ADA restrooms, sidewalks, a ramp and stairs to the lower level, benches, irrigated landscaping, and a wayfinding sign of downtown walking destinations and parking. Groups have already expressed interest in having their events in this pretty and festive space.
It truly took a village to complete this process! Silver City MainStreet has a foot-high stack of files going back more than ten years representing the hard work and reality of start and stops that are part of getting a public infrastructure project completed. Some of the 2006 and 2007 files have newspaper clippings and flyers announcing public meetings held at the Silco Theater for input on design of the Plaza. There are three different architectural renderings of the Plaza that reflect the many phases and steps a project like this takes. Different plots of land were acquired in the early years including one this past year, to complete the project all the way to 8th Street. The original plans and concept drawings were done by NM MainStreet revitalization specialists who work with local MainStreets, one of the benefits of being in the MainStreet program.
Placemaking and community development are now leading economic development in our towns and cities. Jobs are going to where the talent is and where that talent wants to be. Because of this, making our town a place residents want to be is critically important. Downtowns are now the litmus test and best recruitment tool for entrepreneurs who are considering relocating to a community. A walkable downtown is high on the ‘must have’ for this group of people and we are lucky that our downtown is. Downtowns are also considered a community’s living room, a place where people can hang out and feel comfortable.
How Small Towns and Cities Can Use Local assets to Rebuild Their Economies: Lessons Learned from Successful Places states, “Communities that invest in their natural assets can better attract and retain residents, tourists, and businesses who value clean air and water and natural landscapes. Redeveloping properties makes productive use of existing transportation, water, and utility infrastructure; increases the tax base and employment opportunities; and helps spur investment in surrounding properties.”
The Plaza connects two previously separate parts of the Big Ditch Park, a huge asset in our community that is often overlooked by residents. We hope that more residents will take advantage of Lions Park located just north of the Plaza and enjoy the trail that continues north all the way to the Public Works Building on Hudson Street. The Big Ditch Park also continues south from the Plaza to the Visitor Center. By using these areas, we will make them safe and enjoyable for everyone in our community. The Plaza will make the downtown area more inviting for both residents and tourists, and help make downtown Silver City a place where people want to be and come back to.
Currently, funding is being sought to fund a Youth Mural Project to put riparian plants and animals on the Plaza restroom building and on the cement benches. By engaging youth, there will be more ownership and awareness of this downtown asset. Additionally, the Plaza is ideal for interpretive signs about our historic downtown, Main Street, native plants, and the ecology of the area. This creative placemaking encourages use by residents and tourists. Use means a safer environment and increased incomes for the downtown businesses. All of these assets along with offering residents and tourists a place to relax and enjoy themselves make for greater community livability.
By providing an event/parking space with a restroom, residents and visitors alike will be encouraged to shop our downtown. With 28,000 residents in our county, if each spent only $10/month downtown, that would be an increase of $3.4 million dollars into the local economy.
2020 is Silver City MainStreet’s 35th Anniversary. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate our anniversary than the completion of the Main Street Plaza! We look forward to the time we can once again have events in the new Plaza.
Silver City MainStreet
201 N. Hudson St. Silver City, NM 88061