In 2008, Ashtabula’s historic lift bridge was scheduled to close for repairs. As a response to the temporary closure of the center of Bridge Street’s livelihood, the Lift Bridge Community Association was formed. LBCA established traffic-generating events like fairs, festivals and open houses to draw people to Bridge Street businesses despite disruptive construction and the timeliness of the recession [i]. The nonprofit organization has channeled community support into real and tangible improvements to the historic district for just over a decade, promoting and developing the harbor as a major tourist, recreation, and entertainment district.
Since their previous planning period in 2012, the Lift Bridge Community Association has expanded their planning area boundaries and more than doubled community support for the historic district. To date, the LBCA can take credit for the construction of a new parking lot on Bridge Street, repaving of Hulbert Hill and 18 façade improvements on buildings within the historic district, a fine-tuning of Architectural Review Board guidelines and improved code enforcement, and continued festival and event coordination [ii]. After coming in the top 10 the previous year, Bridge Street Ashtabula won the 2018 America’s Main Street Contest, bringing in a $25,000 cash prize and $2,000 in sponsor gift certificates, reflecting the success of LBCA’s promotion and dedication to area improvements.
LBCA recently released a new five-year strategic plan, which outlines an ongoing commitment to repopulating the historic center with mixed-use residential and business space, enticing visitors to the area, and providing the capital improvements needed to stabilize and enhance the Harbor Historic District. LBCA’s grassroots effort to develop a vibrant, exciting, lively, and aesthetically pleasing destination diverse exemplifies a model place-based strategy of redevelopment with a focus on historic preservation.
[i]Terry, Shelley. (June 5, 2018). “Bridge Street wins ‘America’s Main Streets’ contest.” Ashtabula Star Beacon. http://www.starbeacon.com/news/local_news/bridge-street-wins-america-s-main-streets-contest/article_c218d3f4-1d91-56ed-bb89-e23c35506a98.html
[ii] Lift Bridge Community Association Five-Year Strategic Plan https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5786a3acb3db2b1962f678df/t/5bbf8a05e4966b9d704605d5/1539279411849/AshtabulaFullDoc%28LR%29.pdf