Perryville has been busy leveraging its cultural resources as a way to revitalize the municipality over the past year or so. They’ve applied for Preserve America grants that restore historic sites and provide for the development of programs to draw tourists into the nation’s old towns. The town council has also been involved in other elements of restoring vitality in the old town center, including developing a vision and plan and working on the waterfront.
This morning we read that they’ve taken another step. The state has awarded a $125,000 grant to complete the restoration of Rodgers Tavern, a colonial era landmark in the town. “The tavern will serve as a modern day anchor for downtown Perryville revitalization and provide public access to the water front,” the Baltimore Sun reported.
As officials in some Cecil County municipalities work to bring economic vitality back to the old town centers there must be a vision followed by the implementation of a systematic strategy. It could be that the focus is to create a large center of employment on our Main Streets so that at lunch time there are workers strolling downtown for shopping and meals. But in Cecil County that idea doesn’t seem to be too practical, especially in today’s climate and as the larger employment centers move outside the old towns. But the idea of leveraging one’s history and culture so that a Main Street has a unique ambiance and can compete in a different way with Walmart is one that still seems to have potential when applied diligently. That is provided enough resources have been protected and remain in a community.
Some towns in Cecil County have effectively leveraged their old buildings and sense of place, communities like Port Deposit, Chesapeake City and North East. Too, take a look at the larger region and see which downtowns are successful. While there will be a range of contributing factors, places like Chestertown, Easton, Havre de Grace and Kennett Square draw on that unique sense of place and those heritage resources to a great degree.
Congratulations to the Mayor and Commissioners of Perryville for considering the opportunity to draw on one of the river town’s resources. Someone Noticed thinks they’re on the right track with this strategy and would hope for municipalities see this potential.