Students plan to give Downtown Manchester a face lift

Published: Jul. 2, 2018 at 8:09 PM EDT
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Students from the University of Kentucky and Berea College are planning a revitalization project they believe the City of Manchester could benefit from.

The project is part of a three-year grant given to the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK) by the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Charles Stivers has lived in Manchester his entire life and says he's been trying to bring something special to his hometown for nearly 50 years.

He says he's happy to know fresh eyes are bringing changes to his community.

"I think if students from other colleges come in here to work this summer and try to beautify that, first of all, I think there is a problem here, to begin with," Stivers said.

Ryan Sandwick, the Program Manager of CEDIK and Landscape Agriculture, says these students are currently studying architecture, environmental policy, landscape architecture, and historic preservation.

From now until the end of July they plan to meet every week to continue adding to their 3-D model designed for interests and efforts rooted within the community.

"So even though right over there, there is something called a 'Town Square,' they don't have that central social space. So we are trying to find out where that could be in town," Sandwick said.

Some business owners think a little renovation from a city nearly two hours away is exactly the solution Manchester needs.

Now they hope these beautification designs bring more than tourists, possibly even investors.

"I'd like to see the growth of the county," Stivers said. "I mean, it's hard... it's hard to make a living in Manchester right now."

Sandwick says improvements in Eastern Kentucky do not all have to be built like industrial complexes when even small-scale projects are just as beneficial.

"There hasn't been an emphasis on what can be done for a $1,000, $500, so we are really trying to look at Downtown Manchester and go everywhere from 'What can we do this weekend with no money and 20 sets of hands?' to the '20 year, $2 million project and everything in between.' So we are really trying to identify what those opportunities are."

The group meets at the Makery on Main Street every Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. until the end of July.

Anyone with ideas is welcome to join.