Downtown streetscape project moves forward ahead of schedule
Not even two months after a meeting for downtown merchants detailed Phase II of Main Street Dyersburg's Downtown Revitalization Grant, employees of Ford Construction are completing the first portion of sidewalk renovations on the merchant side of the historic Courthouse Square.
Renovations kicked off on the corner of East Court Street and South Mill Avenue on Valentine's Day.
On Friday, workers were cleaning up the nearly completed sidewalk along Mill Avenue, addressing the corners of South Mill and West Market Street and beginning demolition of the sidewalks along West Market Street.
"I think it adds a lot of beauty to downtown," said City Drug owner Danny Dedmon. "The superintendent (of the project) is Rodney Underwood. I don't see how a guy could have been more accommodating to the merchants. Every afternoon, he came by and asked us what we thought. I can't praise him or the company any more."
"They were very accommodating," said Galleria owner Ann Curtis, who said she is lucky to have two entrances to her business. "They worked on that portion and we locked that door (and then they moved over and we locked that door). I think it looks nice and they did a beautiful job. You had a go-to person here all the time if you had a question. It was a very positive construction experience."
"I think they have done a wonderful job," said City Drug Certified Pharmacy Technician Melissa Dycus. "It's beautiful and they have been fast."
"They were courteous," said Curtis. "They cleaned up any mess they made. And look! They are cleaning my windows now."
Friday's cleanup efforts included Ford Construc-tion employee Kelvin Vandiver, who washed merchant windows along the Mill Street sidewalk as his co-workers rounded the corner to the next phase of the renovation.
"We are on schedule," said Ford Construction Vice President Sam Baggett. "I think all the merchants have been happy with our crews up there. I haven't heard any problems, yet."
"The merchants have been wonderful," aid A2H inspector Walter Mullins. "They have, really and truly. This isn't the first one of these I have done. (The merchants) are usually complaining. This one has gone very well. We are supposed to be done by September, and it looks like we will be done in August."
"I think it's been pretty smooth," said Sandra Miller of the law office of Charles Agee Jr. "We didn't have a problem. If we had a client coming in, we just told them to come around to the back door."
"There is no doubt we are very excited about this work," said First Citizens President and CEO Jeff Agee. "The sidewalks are very beautiful and the process has gone very well. I do want to applaud our Chamber and our local government for being visionary enough to think about investing into downtown Dyersburg. Ford Construction has done a wonderful job and I am glad a local firm got the job."
"I was going to call Ford Construction this week and commend them on the job they have done," said Dyer County Clerk Dianne Moore, who currently has barricades in front of her office. "It has been a very good experience. They have kept me informed on what they are doing day by day, on what they found, on what has taken place. ... (Our office is) probably one of the highest traffic areas and it has not caused a problem at all."
Moore is especially impressed with the way the company has anticipated the needs of both her office and her patrons
"I didn't even ask them for the (little bridges) they put in front of my doors," said Moore. "I just looked up and they were there."
Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce Director of Downtown Development Steve Guttery also had praise for Ford Construction Co.
"It is very obvious they are the right company to do the job," said Guttery. "We have gotten off to an incredible start. Our plan is communication, plain and simple. And Rodney Underwood gets that."
"I think it's a great thing," said Downtown Dyersburg Association President Joe Yates. "For a short period of time there will be a little inconvenience, but when that is over we should have a beautiful downtown. It will bring back the history of downtown and, hopefully, provide a beautiful and attractive place to do business."
"I am very pleased with how smooth the project is going," said Mike Pennington, also of Dyersburg Downtown Association. "I don't know how far ahead of schedule they are, but they are doing great work. It is going to be such an improvement for our downtown. Maybe further upgrades can be done to buildings and make downtown a pleasant experience."
Dedmon said not many residents know that the funds used to renovate the downtown streetscapes would simply go to another community if Dyer County leaders hadn't pursued the grant from TDOT's Transportation Enhancement Program.
TEP funds may only be used on pedestrian traffic enhancements. Strict rules govern how funds are requested and what improvements may be made.
"(The renovations are) very pleasing to the eye," said Dedmon. "We were pretty lucky to get it done."
As rain showers on Friday morning cleared, several patrons visited the square and shared their opinions of the new sidewalks and the downtown renovations.
"Oh, they are making it pretty," said Tom Foster of Trenton, who said he comes to the area often to frequent local antique shops. "They are doing themselves proud."
"I think they look so good," said a patron of City Drug. "I am proud of them. I really am. It gives the downtown area just a facelift almost."
"I don't like it," said Dyersburg resident Bobby Waller. "It is the biggest waste of money. I have to come downtown on business, but they have just killed downtown Dyersburg. I've lived here all my life and I would move away if I wasn't married."
Waller is especially worried about the parking spaces lost to flowerbeds.
"The sidewalks are prettier," said Waller. "But they should be narrower. It would be pretty if you had enough parking downtown."
"We have been working on this for a long time," said Yates. "And we sure will be glad to have both sides of the street finished."
"I am very pleased with the Farmers Market and the strides we've made for our River Park," said Pennington. "When this all comes together, Dyersburg is going to have a facelift."
Agee said the updated sidewalks add value to the downtown district, aid recruitment and are a feature that local citizens can be proud of.
"We want to make our downtown beautiful," said Agee. "Our businesses down here are very excited about it. This is just the beginning and we don't need to stop here."