According to the “Downtown Revitalization Plan,” dated June 20, 2007, the process “was designed to help people interested in the future of downtown Portsmouth reach an ambitious goal; to chart an effective and achievable process for rebuilding downtown Portsmouth’s role as the heart of the Portsmouth and the Scioto County community.” Two years after the first plan was unveiled, the Portsmouth Downtown Streetscape Master Plan had been developed.
Outgoing Portsmouth Mayor Jim Kalb said one of the key priorities identified in the 2007 strategic plan was that downtown Portsmouth needed a Portsmouth Downtown Streetscape Master Plan.
“After much input, review and revision by city personnel and Main Street Portsmouth members, Jacobs Engineering Consultants rendered our dreams into a workable plan,” he said.
Highlighted in the master plan’s introduction are some of Downtown Portsmouth’s assets, such as Chillicothe Street, which houses businesses that provide services and retail to the local community; Sixth Street, and The Boneyfiddle District, which provides unique shopping and restaurants for residents and visitors.
“Despite these assets, downtown Portsmouth does not at this time live up to its full potential. Part of the challenge facing downtown Portsmouth is that these areas are disconnected from each other, and visitors to one destination are not encouraged to explore other locations,” the plan states. “Just as significantly, however, sidewalks, streetlights, street trees and other elements are in disrepair throughout downtown. Uneven sidewalk pavement and damaged street furnishing, such as benches and trash receptacles, indicate that downtown Portsmouth needs basic physical infrastructure improvements to support the existing and future investments of the business community.”
Newly elected Portsmouth Mayor Jane Murray said, “I have a good group of people who are ready to start on our economic development downtown revitalization planning that will follow what’s been done in the past. We are really excited about the work that we are going to be doing; that will not only preserve, but enhance what has been done.”
Main Street Portsmouth is also excited about the opportunity to continue its partnership with the city of Portsmouth.
“The strategic plan will help preserve and revitalize our historic downtown and Boneyfiddle districts as we work to make it the destination to live, work, learn and play,” said Zoe Richards, director of Main Street Portsmouth.
“This will mean the world to downtown Portsmouth,” said Daniel Saez, Portsmouth Community Development director. “It will be a comprehensive approach towards the future development of our historic district as well as the downtown area.”
The plan also calls for downtown Portsmouth to be a pedestrian-friendly environment that, “is necessary to generate more social interaction and commercial activities downtown.”
The plan outlines a number of things that could be enhanced in the downtown Portsmouth area. Some of the recommended enhancements include gateway wayfinding signs that will help to define key entry points and attractions in the city.
It also recommends improvements to light posts, traffic lights benches and trash receptacles. The plan recommends connectivity with Chillicothe Street, Shawnee State University and Alexandria Point with the use of sidewalks.
The entire plan will cost about $4.58 million when fully implemented, and “could become a reality within a period of five to six years, if Portsmouth commits to seeking funds from state and federal agencies as well as investing our own taxpayer dollars,” Kalb said.
“Every successful downtown revitalization effort is dependent on the long-term commitment of the people who work, live, shop and find entertainment downtown,” the 2007 revitalization plan states. “If people interested in a vibrant downtown Portsmouth are serious about making downtown revitalization happen, it is these people who must take the initiative to lead the revitalization.”
The 2007 plan references a book titled “The Rough Road to Renaissance:”
“This title captured the essence of the downtown revitalization process; a long and often challenging series of steps, often very small and modest, that move the community toward a better future state. But despite its challenges, the process is worth it. If we remain focused on that goal of renaissance; we create new life for all of our communities as well.”