Fairhope mayor speaks on downtown revitalization

Published 6:41 pm Thursday, August 22, 2013

Demopolis welcomed Timothy Kant, the mayor of Fairhope, to town Thursday evening for the city’s third meeting on downtown revitalization.

Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson asked Kant to come speak at the meeting because of the success Fairhope has had in revitalizing its downtown area over the last 30 years.

Kant started as a horticulturist in Fairhope in 1983, and since then, he has worked non-stop to make Fairhope a destination city in South Alabama.

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“I’ve been part of Fairhope since 1983 when there were very few flowers and trees downtown,” he said. “It took time – we’ve been working on it for more than 30 years – but we were consistent, and we stayed focused.”

He said Demopolis already has more from a beautification standpoint than Fairhope did when he started working there, but that it takes time and money to make the city look the way the people want it to look.

“People want instant gratification, so we tried to spend money on things that people could see instead of just spending money on plans,” Kant said.

Also speaking at the meeting was Alabama Main Street State Coordinator Mary Helmer.

She moved to Alabama from Emporia, Kan., where she was the Kansas Main Street Coordinator, in June.

The Alabama Main Street program has recently been restarted, and new cities will be accepted into the program beginning in 2014.

“We work with local communities to get programs going, and we do that by providing resources and training,” Helmer said. “It’s a long-term program, but it will transform a downtown district.”

Grayson said with the help of the community, Demopolis can be like Fairhope and similar destinations.

“Demopolis is a good town,” he said, “and we can all work together to make it great. It will take each one of us to make it happen, but together, we can make something great happen.”