Originally created 08/15/97

Aiken could make Newberry Street official festival site



AIKEN - If two Aiken committees have their way, Newberry Street could become the official location for festivals and other outdoor events held downtown.

The Aiken Design Committee and the Economic Revitalization Committee, two subcommittees of Aiken's Downtown Development Association, looked at plans Thursday that would make the street a more conducive area for outside events.

"We'll have a permanent arbor that at times could be adapted to have awnings during festivals for concessions and an area with power and lighting for a stage," said McDonald Law, a consultant to the city who designed the plans for Newberry Street. "We'd also add trees, pavers, streetlights and bollards."

Plans also include adding a permanent backdrop for the location of a stage, a fountain at the end of the Alley and underground electrical conduits for a sound system.

Wade Brodie, a member of the downtown development association, said the improvements would also give the street a much-needed face lift.

"Laurens Street right now is starting to look real good, and you get over to Newberry Street and it's bleak-looking," Mr. Brodie said. "Going beyond that, it'll encourage the use of Newberry Street and in effect bring more business downtown."

Sam Erb, downtown development chairman, said the committee chose Newberry Street as a location for the project because most festivals, including Oktoberfest, the Aiken Lobster Races and the All-America City celebration, were all held on Newberry Street.

"When we do have festivals that's where we always end up putting them," he said.

Mr. Erb added that the committee has been discussing the past four months developing the project on Newberry Street. He said he hopes the street improvements will draw more people downtown.

"If this comes together, every Saturday we'll try to have different events there," Mr. Erb said.

Mr. Law said the committee is in the process of getting cost estimates for the project.