Borough seeks to revitalize center

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:47

    STANHOPE-With a vision for a renaissance of the "downtown" area of Stanhope, a group of residents met last week to brainstorm ideas to accomplish the goal. The Downtown Revitalization Committee is comprised of residents with expertise in different fields, such as architect Sergio Chavarria, Robin Olson, a real estate agent, Marion Murdock, owner of the Blue Heron Antiques Shop, Councilman Brian Murphy, and Don Drake, an engineer and lifetime resident. The members believe the way to revitalize Stanhope's commercial center involves developing and marketing downtown as a destination along the lines of Chester or New Hope in Pennsylvania. The group talked about the need to utilize the town's history by preserving the original façades of the stores, as well as to promote that new buildings are designed to complement those existing. One of the group's goals is to encourage property owners to convert ground level spaces, many of which are now residential, back to retail use. The group plans to look at offering owners incentives to do the conversion. "We should sell (downtown) as an attraction that includes hobby stores, galleries, a small café, and an ice cream store," Olson suggested. The group also discussed using the Morris Canal as an attraction by creating a canal museum and restoring the mill that sits beside an existing portion of the canal. The committee will investigate Stanhope's eligibility for state money designated for Town Center grants. "This is an historic town and that's what we should build on," Chavarria said.