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Fries needs clear plan for future

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By The Gazette

Recently, Fries Town Council was encouraged to revisit a master plan that it had previously developed for the town’s revitalization… and we couldn’t agree more.
In recent years, small towns have seen their share of economic downfall, and Fries is no exception. A place of history and an ideal spot for outdoor recreation, the area has a lot of promise. But over the years, the area’s redevelopment seems to have, quite frankly, ground to a halt.
It’s not that the town officials aren’t trying. Over the months, we’ve seen plenty of ideas thrown about and business proposals offered, from a new Christian school to a combination water park and orphanage.
The problem, however, is that not every idea is necessarily a good one for the sake of an economic re-boot. That’s where a plan is crucial.
Localities like Galax and Hillsville are good examples of successful recent revitalizations. The city’s downtown area is better than ever, thanks to a focus on tourism, art and music – three traits that the city is famous for. Hillsville reworked its downtown into an attractive business community and venue for festivals and gatherings.
Fries has marketable traits of its own – the rich musical history, the New River and numerous other outdoor recreation opportunities, for example. While entrepreneurs should be commended for having new and exciting visions, these visions aren’t always going to match what Fries needs to succeed.
Imagine how a water sports and apparel shop would do in the town, or a bike rental shop. What about horseback riding? Fishing? What about a fully stocked grocery store and deli just blocks away from the majority of the residents?
This could all be possible, as long as every spot isn’t taken by the first people to ask for them.
With a deliberate plan in place, Fries could be a successful area again, both for business and for raising a family. But without first laying a firm foundation, plans for revitalizing this historic area will just continue to fall apart.