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Their work is often unheralded, but the truth is, each month five regular citizens meet to discuss the future of Williston’s redevelopment.
Led by Dr. Kenneth Schwiebert, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) of Nick Williams, Betty Fender, Jonathan Lewis and Jim Smith has a vision for the city and works tirelessly to bring dreams to reality.
At the forefront of this vision is a huge revitalization of Heritage Park, located off Main Street and in front of city hall.
Plans call for an expanded pavilion area, a section designated for a veterans’ memorial, and at some future point, a Heritage Walk memorial that outlines the city’s history and pays tribute to the pioneers who settled Williston through interpretative panels.
The CRA, an advisory committee, puts its ideas before the city council and with approval, proceeds with the plans.
Last month Schwiebert told the council that at times the group feels it is alone in its endeavors.
“We feel pretty lonely,” he said. “Give us some feedback. We’re pleading for help and support from the council. I can honestly say I have Williston’s best interests at heart.”
Not only is the council’s support needed, Schwiebert said, the CRA is also asking for community input and support.
Monday night, CRA members noted that some people have come to the meetings with concerns about beautification efforts, especially on Main Street, but many fail to realize the CRA has no control over private property–or its owners.
What it can do, however, is continue to revitalize city-owned property, like Heritage Park.
The expanded and improved pavilion will have a storage area, restrooms and a new facade to face Main Street.
The veterans memorial will honor the five branches of the military and perhaps have walk pavers that bear the names of men and women who have served in the military.
Preliminary work on the pavilion has begun and construction could start as early as March. The CRA hopes to have most of the work complete in time for the 2013 Peanut Festival.
The CRA will meet again at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 14 in the city council chambers adjacent to city hall.