Buckley commits $50,000 in grants to revitalize downtown

The money will go toward a new non-profit dedicated to making Main Street pop.

This story was updated on Oct. 5 to reflect that the Buckley City Council approved the Main Street Capacity Grant during their Oct. 28 council meeting.

Buckley will commit a total of $50,000 in grants to continue revitalizing its downtown core, courtesy largely of the inaugural round of a new state grant program.

The money will be used to hire an Executive Director to oversee a new 501c3 non-profit focused on improving the Main Street experience, according to City Manager Paul Weed.

That director will help create events and activities on Main Street, which Weed said the City is trying to build into a sort of “third place.” That’s community planning lingo for a social scene where people can eat, socialize and build community aside from the two places they spend most of their time: Home and work.

The City Council unanimously approved the plan during their Oct. 28 council meeting.

The goal is to develop the non-profit so that it can be financially self-sustaining, raising money through sponsorships, fundraising and other efforts. Until then, the City will be responsible for much of guiding and directing the fledgling organization, with help from the Chamber of Commerce.

The Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation’s “Main Street Affiliate Capacity Building Grant Program,” which supplied most of the grant money, is designed to help revitalize Main Streets like Buckley’s.

Buckley is the first of four cities to be awarded by the grant. Organizations in Ferndale, LaCrosse and Pullman also received chunks of change.

Washington State put in the majority – $35,000 – of the funds for the project. Another $10,000 in matching grants came from American Rescue Plan Act coffers divied up to the city, and the Buckley Chamber of Commerce kicked in $5,000.

The city has already been working with landlords and tenants on Main Street to pretty things up, such as by applying new coats of paint, taking care of broken windows and replacing siding, Weed said.

Essentially, this grant programs will look sort of like a new Chamber of Commerce that is hyperfocused on Main Street. The goal is to help out busy business owners and the City with organizing community events, keeping the area beautiful, and taking other measures to ensure the vitality of Main Street.

Efforts to revitalize historic, rural, small-town downtowns aren’t unique to Buckley, the Plateau or even Washington.

“I think most people can recognize what was main street in a lot of cities, across the country, are vastly different than they were back in the day,” Weed said.