Strasburg survey provides guidance for downtown

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce
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Residents want an open space for a farmers market or
performance venue. Photo courtesy Town of Strasburg

A recent survey has given Strasburg leaders a clearer understanding of what new steps it should take in reviving its downtown.

The survey revealed local residents’ desire to have a public open space downtown. “What you see in a lot of revitalized downtowns is open space,” says Kimberly Murray, Strasburg’s economic development and planning manager. “We really wanted to hear from the public about that.”

Most people participating in the survey listed a farmers market or performance venue/amphitheater as their top choice for the open space.

“We need some type of public space that will invite and entice people to come downtown,” says town manager Jud Rex, noting that the survey also shed light on shopping patterns. “We also found that people were interested in parking. We have plenty of spaces, but it’s a matter of navigating to the businesses and other areas downtown. We need to find a way to help folks better navigate around.”

The survey was conducted as part of a $35,000 block grant the town received from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

“We applied for the grant about a year and a half ago to explore ways to jumpstart downtown,” says Rex. “We wanted to look at what types of businesses the market might handle and other things we could do to help downtown.”

As a result of the survey, two public sessions already have been held: one to share the survey data and the other to conduct a charette, a planning session.

Town leaders say they were extremely pleased with participation in the survey. They received 638 responses; 436 were collected on the Internet through Survey Monkey and 202 were paper surveys. “What was eye opening about the survey was the response,” Murray says.

Approximately 12 percent of Strasburg households (estimated at around 3,000) responded to the survey. “That’s quite amazing,” Murray says. “It’s hard to get 100 people to respond.”

Response to the first public input session in July was high as well. “Surveys collect quantitative data, but the public input gave us qualitative data. It gives us the narrative behind the survey results,” says Kelly Hall, associate planner for Community Planning Partners Inc. in Richmond, which conducted the survey.

The town hopes to apply for a full grant from the Community Development Block Program in the spring. “That will help us get implementation funds so we can design a space for a farmers market or a performance space,” Rex says.

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