The Historic Harrison Business Association met last night to discuss ideas and new directions for revitalizing downtown. Rick Schoenberger, President of the HHBA, said that fixing the problems with the Harrison Square and the downtown business district is a “tough nut.”
Schoenberger owns Backstreet Traders and another building on Stephenson Street and says one of the main issues facing downtown are the old buildings and the lack of desire by owners to put in the needed funds for repair and remodeling. Schoenberger has been a business owner in Harrison since 2004 and has seen this problem since he started his business. He appreciates the commitment Mayor Jerry Jackson has made to improving Downtown Harrison as well as the presence of the Harrison Police Department on the Square for doing what they can to limit crime. Schoenberger would like to see more small business owners pull together into one place and seek resolutions to restoring Historic Downtown Harrison.
Mayor Jackson attended the meeting of the HHBA last night and delivered remarks which resemble that of President Schoenberger in saying, “of everything on my list of things to do … the hardest is going to be downtown.” Mayor Jackson said that he has ideas for revitalization and that he will share them at a later meeting. Last night he took the opportunity to introduce Fire Chief Marc Lowery and Chief of Police Chris Graddy to the downtown business owners.
Both Chief Lowery and Chief Graddy spoke to the HHBA about their unique backgrounds and how they can help solve some of the issues. Chief Lowery has served as the Fire Chief for Harrison in the past and he has also served as the Fire Marshal. His experience gives him unique insight into what it will take to allow the top floors of buildings on the square to become housing. An idea that has been discussed to bring more people to the downtown area. However, the age of the buildings, lack of parking, and the expense to bring the buildings up to code make this problematic.
Chief Graddy spoke about a program he believes will help reduce crime in Harrison called the “Take Home Program” which allows officers to take their patrol cars home and drive them in their off hours. Opponents of the program say this is extra cost in gas to the tax payers, but Chief Graddy says that this program has been proven to deter criminals. Click the player below to listen as Chief Graddy describes what he saw as a result of this program’s implementation in Springdale, Arkansas in the early 1990’s. Details about what is going to happen to revitalize Downtown Harrison are currently few, but the issue is one of the focuses of the new city administration.
Details about what is going to happen to revitalize Downtown Harrison are currently few, but the issue is one of the focuses of the new Harrison City Administration.