RESTORING TAYLORSVILLE: Officials want to see Main Street move forward and hope that private businesses will occupy vacancies

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Editor’s note: This story is the third in a three-part series. First, The Spencer Magnet looked at buildings that have been dubbed “unsafe structures” in the City of Taylorsville. Last week’s story explained the city’s unsafe structure ordinance, including how it has been applied lately, and today, we’ll present some of the plans in motion and visions for restoring Taylorsville.

City Commissioner Beverly Ingram has a vision for downtown Taylorsville and at last week’s meeting, the commission voted to take some steps toward making that vision a reality.
Ingram, who owns a business on and lives on Main Street, has been a primary proponent of enforcing the city’s unsafe structure ordinance.
(For the purpose of unsafe structures, Commissioner Nathan Nation steps aside from that role to keep the commission updated as the fire chief of the Taylorsville-Spencer County Fire Department. As such, Nation abstains from voting on unsafe structure issues to avoid a conflict of interest.)
Most recently, Ingram made a motion to move forward in the process of enforcing the unsafe structure ordinance on a property located at 57 Jefferson Street. That step could have included asking the property owner to demolish the building or notifying the property owner that the city would demolish the building and place a lien on the property.
However, Ingram’s motion during the July 10 meeting failed for lack of a second.
Frustrated with the results, Ingram has focused her efforts on another route she believes will remedy some of the city’s issues.
Ingram and Taylorsville Police Officer Kenneth Bledsoe recently attended a seminar on code enforcement and enforcing the ordinances the city has on the books.
Although the city doesn’t have a set “code” to enforce, it could have a citation officer to cite those found in violation of certain city ordinances — in fact, the commission voted 5-0 last Tuesday evening to allow the Taylorsville Police Department to do just that. Bledsoe will now add citation officer to his list of duties.
Primarily, for now, citations will be handed out to those violating the city’s nuisance ordinance, which sets regulations for lawn appearance, among other things.
The commission also voted to set in motion the plans for a historical overlay district to help preserve and maintain some of the city’s history. That district has not been mapped out, nor have any regulations for buildings within the district been set, but last Tuesday’s action means the city acknowledges it has historical areas worth preserving.
That motion passed 4-1 with only Commissioner Nation voting no. Nation said he wasn’t against creating a historical overlay district, but would rather the city enforce the regulations it has now than add others onto the list.
Ingram has been working with Main Street Manager Gordon Deapen to develop the foundation of the historical district, and both seem to have similar visions for the future the city.
Ingram said she can remember stories her parents used to tell about the bustling city of Taylorsville.
“Downtown wasn’t rich, but you could get anything you needed here,” Ingram said, recalling tales of ice cream shops and gathering at the local post office.
Ingram said she would love to see the post office moved back downtown.
“It’s such a good gathering place,” she said.
“We have a great little downtown,” she said. “It just needs some work.”
Some of that work is currently going on in the form of the Phase II Main Street project, which is nearing completion. The sidewalks on Main Street from Jefferson to Main Cross have been redone to match the sidewalks from Phase I, which included Main Street from Main Cross to Washington.
Ingram said she hopes the Phase II project will start a domino effect and inspire business owners to spruce up their storefronts.
“It did last time,” Ingram said, referring to Phase I. “We could be on the move again.”
Ingram and Deapen are proponents of a historical overlay district in part to preserve Main Street and keep the city from having “missing teeth” — if the only option is to tear down a building, the hole it would leave is similar to a missing tooth in a smile.
Deapen said he would like to see buildings repaired and new retail businesses moving in.
“I don’t think we want a Seven-Eleven just so we have something in there,” he said. “We need to move forward with things that make sense.”
Deapen said he’s not in opposition to government offices or apartment-style city dwellings in the vacancies on Main Street, but thinks those things would make sense on the second level of buildings, with retail business on the main floor.
“Let’s put private businesses in the storefronts and put government and apartments in the second story,” he said.
While booming businesses on Main Street may be further in the future, both Ingram and Deapen encourage current property owners to take pride in their property.
“Ownership of property from Jefferson to Washington is a sacred trust,” Deapen said. “It’s history, a piece of culture. If you choose to own property on Main Street, you should commit to maintain it.”
Ingram echoed that sentiment.
“It hurts me to see places falling apart,” she said, noting that she has recently replaced the roof and HVAC system at her store. “It’s not cheap, but if I couldn’t do it, I’d get rid of it.”
That thought should extend to property owners who rent out residential property as well, she said.
“Have respect for the human beings who may rent there.”