In March our team conducted a three-day on-site workshop related to Bryson City’s Main Street and Island Park project areas to enhance the downtown economy and recreational opportunities. Paired with mentors who critiqued their design proposals, the design team completed a community assessment report for Bryson City Council. This is a partnership with HandMade in America’s Small Towns program.
About Bryson City:
Bryson City has an abundance of assets in and around the city that make it a unique spot in the Western North Carolina Mountains. It has a deep culture with strong ties to the region and the land. The flat and compact downtown area makes it very walkable and easy to get around on bicycles. The downtown’s rich character comes from its historical main street buildings, building enhancements, industrial heritage and prime location on the Tuckasegee River. On top of these are great natural assets within the city itself – mountain vistas, flowing water, and an extensive habitat for a range of plants and animals. Together these assets support a range of amenities for both locals and tourists.
Bryson City is the cultural, financial, governmental and service center of a Swain County. As the only incorporated place in the county, Bryson City’s downtown plays an especially critical role in the economic prosperity of the entire area. Investing in downtown through public/private partnerships can provide the entire community with potentially large returns on investment (ROI). The ROI for the city and county may be realized in the form of increased tax revenues. For entrepreneurs, both existing businesses and new ones, the ROI is increased customers, profits and prosperity. And good returns for nonprofits and volunteer/civic groups the ROI is often an increase in community connections and services.
While Everett St. provides a thriving climate for Bryson City businesses, Main St. remains under-developed and physically unattractive. ADC will conduct a streetscape exercise that will lead to the revitalization of this thoroughfare. At the end of Bryson St. is a pedestrian bridge which brings visitors to Island Park on the Tuckasegee River. The park is nearly a blank slate, with only a couple of picnic tables located along the river and an old stone wall at the northern tip of the island. Part of our challenge will be finding ways to connect the park to Everett St., inviting pedestrians to the island.
Everett Street pedestrian bridge redesign: