March 18 2013 12:00 AM

Old Town lands national recognition

Monday, May 23 — Taking care of an historic district can provide more benefits than just a stroll through the past. It can also attract national attention.

"Old Town Main Street" has been honored with a 2011 Great American Main Street Award, or GAMSA, given out by the National Trust Main Street Center.

“We’re extremely honored. We feel it is recognition of many years of hard work beginning before the Old Town Commercial Association was incorporated in 1996. We are really looking at it with a broad lens back in time to really just recognition of all those years of hard work,” said Aaron Matthews, vice president of the Old Town Commercial Association. “People want to look for a silver bullet or immediate solution to problems, it takes a long time. People need to be dedicated and in it for the long haul.”

Matthews said the award is based on Old Town’s commitment to historic preservation and economic development. It’s the culmination of the hard work of thousands of people who volunteer in Old Town, he said.

“We’re expecting about 1,300 volunteers at the various festivals and events throughout the year. It has brought people together throughout the region. It takes volunteers to make things like this happen,” Matthews said.

Old Town Main Street was recognized at the National Main Streets Conference in Des Moines, Iowa. GAMSA winners are honored for revitalizing the nation’s historic and traditional main streets and following the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s "Main-Street Four-Point Approach" to “revitalize their districts by leveraging local assets — from cultural or architectural heritage to local enterprises and community pride.”

Governmental agency representatives in historic preservation and community development, former award winners and community development professionals chose GAMSA winners.

Old Town Main Street was one of five GAMSA recipients. Other winners include Downtown Beloit Association in Beloit, Wisc.; Main Street Fort Pierce in Fort Pierce, Fla.; Downtown Newark Partnership in Newark, Del.; and Silver City Main Street Project, Silver City, N.M.