The event was the ribbon cutting on a major upgrade—visible and not—on Chestnut Street, a major thoroughfare through Bastrop and the east-west axis of Bastrop’s 65-block Main Street Program area. More than 200 people were on hand July 17 to cut the ribbon and celebrate the completion of a major milestone in the Chestnut Street Improvement Project.
Readily apparent changes are new curbing, stamped concrete crosswalks and sidewalks, new “period” lighting and 31 inset bronze medallions celebrating Bastrop’s long history. Utility poles and overhead lines have been removed in favor of underground electrical, telephone and cable service; an arborist has trimmed and treated along the street, water lines have been replaced and sewer and storm water drainage has been improved.
At each street corner are medallions commemorating Bastrop’s 1832 founding on El Camino Real de los Tejas, the Old Spanish Road that transected the heart the town on its route from Old Mexico, through San Antonio, into East Texas and beyond into Louisiana. Inset into sidewalks along both sides of Chestnut are 19 additional medallions each depicting a formative event or place in Bastrop’s history.
The July 17 was both a ribbon cutting for the project and the unveiling of the bronze medallions inset in the now pedestrian friendly Chestnut Street pathway from Main Street, the most historic core, to the convention center site, eight blocks east. The festivities also included shuttle service to the nearby Heart of Texas Art Foundry where the medallions were designed and cast. The foundry visit featured a tour of its new gallery and the production facility itself, one of four in the U.S. capable of casting monumental bronze pieces using the lost wax process.
The Chestnut Street Improvement Project is funded entirely by the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation through the one-half cent sales tax dedicated to local economic development as authorized by voters in 1995. BEDC has also figured prominently in substantial upgrades to Bastrop’s Main Street—in funding both infrastructure upgrades and $25,000 “mega grants” and $5,000 “façade grants” to lift private investment in the historic downtown area.
According to Bastrop Mayor Terry Orr, BEDC’s role has helped stimulate over $4 million in private investment in the historic core over the past four years, a total investment that has transformed and revitalized Bastrop’s downtown business district while securing the preservation of historic structures.
Source, Images: http://www.cityofbastrop.org/departments/main_street/index.html