Business owners, residents to discuss future of Pittsboro

PITTSBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- Downtown Pittsboro is known for its small town charm. With a major development on the horizon, town leaders are not only bracing for a population boom and increased traffic, they're also trying to prepare for it.

Downtown business owners and community members plan to meet Tuesday night to discuss possible changes coming to the downtown area.

"I think the bare bones of Pittsboro are wonderful," said Samantha Birchard, the owner of Pittsboro Toys. "We have a great community, a great supportive community, but things need constant sprucing up."

That's why Birchard and other downtown business owners are planning ahead. For more than a year, they've been preparing for a future population boom as the controversial Chatham Park, a residential and office development, gets underway.

It's left town leaders with some serious questions on how to maintain their unique downtown charm.

"How do we enhance our parking? How do we make it safer? How do we make walking downtown safer," asked town manager Bryan Gruesbeck.

Those questions and the town's vision plan are the focus of the meeting where a landscape architect and the NC Department of Transportation will lay out potential changes to the familiar courthouse circle and surrounding streets. The changes are in anticipation of increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

"Obviously, there are some possible threats to the norm," explained Gruesbeck. "I think what our downtown offers is a very unique sense of place. But, everything needs to be maintained. Everything needs to be enhanced and if you're not improving, you're going backwards."

From sidewalk enhancements to road improvements, some downtown business owners are embracing the possibility of change in hopes it will mean a more profitable future.

"I think with historic downtown it just takes maintenance like an old house," said Birchard.

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