By Debbie Vandeberg
Parks and town squares serve many functions. They help to soften the hard effects of the buildings surrounding the area while at the same time enhancing their architecture and historical appeal.
The visual first impression of a community is paramount when a town is recruiting new residents and businesses. The new Town Square in Havre will definitely enhance the appearance of our community.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, communities began looking at their slumbering downtowns and wondering what they could do to bring them back to life. Community leaders of Havre realized their community's blighted downtown district needed a strong focal point if the planned beautification and revitalization program was going to succeed. Therefore, the town square idea came to be a place where people could gather and enjoy the historic downtown area.
The recent revival of new town squares in cities across America is proving that an old idea can breathe fresh life into listless downtowns and reach far into the future. Not to any great surprise, people are attracted to eye-appealing places. People expect beauty. This beauty is an essential component of quality of life.
Around the country, town squares are proving to be an instant success, drawing hundreds of residents and visitors to free concerts and art shows, farmers' markets, craft fairs and family-oriented cultural events like powwows and native crafts shows, and community events like Havre's annual lighting of the town Christmas tree. Most recently, town squares have been a place where residents can gather, light a candle and join hands to remember and memorialize lives lost because of tragic events. It is a place where differences are set aside and race is no longer an issue.
Havre's Meet Me at the Town Square project is based on the traditional concept that the town square is a place where people can meet and greet one another and a beautiful place where people can go and celebrate community. Downtown should reflect the history and pride of a community as well as the character and personality of the entire community.
Parks, town squares and open spaces serve many functions. They are a welcome relief from the hectic pace of travel and daily life. Green spaces contribute to the character of the area. They can give identity to an area and serve as a landmark.
Americans seek settings for informal social interaction. There is a genuine hunger for public space, a craving for the excitement of the town streets and the shared experience of the town square. With the renewed popularity of farmers' markets and street vendors, the beautification and revival of streets attest to a continuing desire for public places in which to walk, talk, eat, exercise or to discover. The town square is the center of spirit and commerce.
Town squares are places for the community and business to meet and they create informal gathering spots that blend education, information, and entertainment in a seamless way. Havre's Town Square project will serve as the anchor for the marketing of local businesses and attractions, like Fort Assinniboine and Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump, through the planned events.
For visitors, Havre's Town Square will be a comfortable place to picnic, sit or stroll within easy walking distance of the historic downtown and local attractions like Havre Beneath the Streets, the Heritage Center and the H. Earl Clack Museum. Respect for the site by those bicycling, skateboarding and walking pets would be very much appreciated.
The Town Square ribbon-cutting celebration is scheduled for next Friday at 6 p.m. The community is invited to the ceremony. Those with reservations will enjoy a pitchfork fondue dinner. The Timely Trio will entertain for the ceremony.
The community members who spearheaded the project need to be commended for developing the vision of the Town Square and seeing the project to completion.
Those involved in the project from beginning to end include Dave Clausen, Garrett Edmonds, Debbie Hedstrom, Jennifer Hoffman, Tracy Job, Kevin Keim, John McLain, Rick Sedahl and Terry Schend.
A huge thank you needs to be extended to the many who partnered, volunteered, donated to, and worked on the project to meet the completion deadline set for Havre Festival Days. Thank you to all who purchased a tree, a bench or a lamppost. All have been spoken for.
The Town Square project is a testament to Havre.............it's the People.
Meet you at the square.