RANDOLPH – Redeveloping vacant properties is an issue for towns, large and small, and the Town of Randolph is no exception. On Tuesday night residents and community leaders met to discuss a property in the center of the hamlet that has been on the minds of many since a building collapse and cleanup left the lot vacant.
Two historic structures, referred to as the McNallie Fischer Building, sat at the corner of Main and Jamestown Streets in the Hamlet before collapsing in May 2015.
An emergency demolition was scheduled to bring down what was left of the buildings and the debris at the site, similar to what is currently happening in the Village of Falconer.
The town fought to obtain the property and clear the rubble. Now residents are looking toward what’s next for the site.
Jason Spain, a Jamestown developer who sits on the town’s planning board, suggested making the location a destination with hopes of bringing outside revenue to the town.
“The name of the game is obviously to increase the business and tax base you have in the community,” said Spain. “It creates more revenue we can invest back into it.”
Spain said the proximity to the Amish Community via the “Amish Trail” is a great resource for the town. He hopes that whatever is built on the spot will act as a beacon for people traveling through Randolph and encourage them to stop and stay awhile.
“We have to reinvent ourselves,” said Spain. “We have to look at ways to take successful businesses and combine those into something that could be walkable, that could be touristy, that could really bring the commerce and a sense of arrival to the downtown and tie it all together.
Some suggested turning the lot into an attraction with green space featuring a gazebo or band shell.
Bob Beach, whose family owns Register Graphics Inc. in the Hamlet, had his graphic designer construct a rendering of what he thinks the park should look like.
“I would like to see something that has some historical value or the recreation of a historical piece like this gazebo for instance,” said Beach. “I would be in favor of creating quite a lot of area that has green space, so if there was a concert people could sit back and enjoy it.”
Officials said if the town decided to construct a park in the spot leaders would look toward obtaining grant money to fund the construction.
One problem put forth by residents with redevelopment at the site is the potential increase in traffic downtown.
“The parking is a concern,” said Town of Randolph Planning Board Chairman Kyle Brown. “If we can find a way to make that work and we are hoping there are other opportunities (for parking) nearby and make that work.”
Brown said that is it sometimes dangerous to park on Main Street because of the way the street is set up.
“When you are parking on Main Street, especially when you have kids, it is pretty hairy, people drive too fast through there.”
The Chairman said he is interested in learning more on how to get traffic to slow down and have visitors not just “drive though” the hamlet.
Around 30 people were in attendance at the meeting. Brown said the town will hold more public input sessions to hear possible ideas for the space.
Many people also chimed in online, many of whom are interested in the park idea.
Either way, the town board will discuss placing top soil, leveling the land and planting grass over the next few weeks to at least cover up the rocky soil that is currently at the site. Town officials said this will most likely be done as a donation from residents who are interested in the project.