Ask anyone what hinders downtown Morgantown and you’ll get a different answer.
Lack of parking, too much traffic, municipal taxes, jaywalking, a preponderance of bars, few places to linger and so on.
However, one we don’t hear much about but is obvious on closer inspection is blight.
On practically every block around every corner there is an old building that’s run down. We are not talking about abandoned properties, either.
These properties are inhabited by either residents (tenants) or businesses.
The city and organizations such as Main Street Morgantown have made a lot of progress in sprucing up the city’s downtown area. But we need to do something more to encourage business owners to spruce up their spaces, too.
Last weekend, we published a story that looked at a string of businesses closures downtown. As one store owner put it, “It’s just the natural evolution that businesses have always been coming and going.”
He’s right but in recent years it seems like the pace of that evolution has accelerated leaving in its wake the traces of blight. No one would argue that money is tight these day for cosmetic improvements, but a few gallons of paint can be managed by almost any business owner.
We can think of several buildings downtown that just look awful. Their overall look is anything but professional. If your building has begun to show its years, contract for a power washing or other such service for brick buildings. Or hire a painting contractor to scrape and put down a fresh layer of paint.
If you don’t own the property negotiate for improvements with the landlord.
No one needs to tell anyone that potential customers form their first impressions of a business by viewing its facade or storefront.
Simple acts such as ensuring an awning is taut or simply washing the windows shows that you take pride in the appearance of your premises.
We’re unsure if a program much like the barn raisings of yore could enlist enough volunteers to every so often target an area of the city for sprucing up.
However, such a program would be in everyone’s interest. If our city’s downtown businesses bloom so does our community’s image beyond the city’s borders.
It’s true every downtown area will experience some store closures. That comes with the turf and not only in downtown areas.
But there can be no question that by dressing up our downtown a little to make it appear more welcoming that helps our community.
And it’s also especially good for the dozens of small businesses downtown.