Hickok Street in Christiansburg is home to Thursday farmer’s market, but town leaders hope it can become a destination for many other things. A year ago, the town unveiled plans to turn the roadway between Commerce and Main streets into a permanent market location with covered vendor stalls and one-way traffic. The road could also be closed to traffic completely.
In the past few months, that vision has expanded to include an entertainment stage and a possible location for an ice rink, which had been discussed several times as a way to bring people into the downtown area during the winter months. Council continues to revisit the plans and what might lie ahead.
Town spokesperson Melissa Powell said Christiansburg leaders want to make Hickok Street a true destination for residents and visitors.
“Town staff have discussed the possibility of permanently closing the street, which would not only create a space for our Farmers’ Market each Thursday and raise the visibility of that seasonal event, but it would also be an area for events and activities year-round. We’ve discussed installing permanent benches for residents to use every day of the week and during our Farmers’ Market,” she said.
Both vendors and market attendees have said they would also like to see places to sit and eat during the market, thus the town is looking to add those benches along the street. Additionally, staff members have suggested an archway and/or lights that would create a festive atmosphere, encouraging individuals to visit the area.
The idea of a stage for bands and other activities came out of a January report, and town officials have suggested it be a temporary stage that can be removed to allow motorized traffic on Hickok when not in use.
“Ultimately, we’d like to see Hickok be a welcoming area for people to gather downtown and enjoy programming, the Farmers’ Market, or, just gather with friends and family and enjoy a meal outside,” Powell said.
But for the any of the plans to work, the town must partner with nearby property owners. Powell said those discussions have already started.
“We would hope that the potential closure of Hickok would encourage more people to come downtown, therefore encouraging them to visit our downtown businesses. The street closure would also require council action, so while we’re excited about exploring these possibilities, there is still much to discuss,” she said.
Town staff has expressed excitement about an ice rink, but it too is still in the discussion stage.
“Though it’s an idea we’re looking into, we still need to research issues surrounding insurance, maintenance and other logistics. As I mentioned, we’re still in the (extremely) preliminary stages, but it’s certainly something we’ll continue to discuss. There are several rink sizes available at low costs, which is another reason we were attracted to the possibility,” Powell said.
A 30”x60” rink would cost approximately $3,900.
Hickok is just part of larger picture for the downtown area, and town leaders hope by creating a dedicated space like this will encourage more programming and residents to attend that programming.
“The closing of Hickok Street could transform it into an inviting space for downtown gatherings, any day of the week and any month of the year,” Powell concluded.
Again, adjacent landowners will have to join the planning.
“Depending on how those conversations go, if council decides to close the street, our Public Works Department could install removable delineators at Hickok and Main and at Hickok and Commerce so vehicles would still be able to enter the street when necessary – whether that’s emergency vehicles, Farmers’ Market vendors, etc. We could then almost immediately begin installing the smaller items being discussed, such as benches and lighting,” Powell said.
There have not been specific estimates on any of the improvements, but the town is optimistic some of the costs could be covered through both state and federal grants.