On a recent business trip to Nashville, Tennessee, Jayson Stringfellow, a local resident, and his son were walking through a section of town called Germantown. Established in the 1850s by European immigrants, Historic Germantown was Nashville’s first suburb with supporting businesses. The neighborhood was born as large brick townhomes were erected next to modest worker cottages, providing an early example of mixed-use neighborhoods with a diverse socioeconomic population.

Modern-day Germantown, just like Clermont’s historic downtown, is undergoing a rebirth and restoration to its original grandeur, bringing residents of both into the urban core to live, work, and play.  In Nashville, local merchants erected two large chalkboards that read, “Before I Die I’d Like To”,  with spaces below for public input. “It was entertaining to read the many entries and watch the public’s interaction with this simple chalk billboard”, said Jayson.

Jayson brought the idea back to Clermont. He spoke with Shannon Schmidt, Clermont’s Economic Director; Darren Gray, City Manager; and James Kinzler, Director of Capital Planning. The discussion motivated a Clermont version of the chalkboard.

The chalkboard, placed on an empty lot, located in downtown Clermont at 857 West Osceola Street (across from Lilly’s On The Lake), poses the question, “What building would be great on this lot?”.

“Shannon Schmidt’s constant quest to find the right businesses for the Downtown Business District was the inspiration for the question on the chalkboard”, said Jayson.

Each evening Jayson and his wife stop by to take a picture of the board to track the suggestions and make room for new ones.  “We look forward to this evening activity and then walk the trail in and around Victory Pointe with our dog in tow to enjoy our city and its newest amenity”, says Jayson. “Just like the Nashville-Germantown board, Clermont’s chalkboard has been a very active and thought-provoking, creative way to poll and involve the public”.

The board is working! Last Sunday, I, the editor of the TABLET, stopped by the chalkboard to see how effective it was. People were gathered in deep conversation about what they would like to see on that site, as well as needed in downtown Clermont. I was happy to see people taking an active interest in downtown Clermont; when only a few years ago, the sleepy little area was struggling to get noticed.

The suggestions on the chalkboard are creative and fun and include   condominiums, health club, smoothie bar, community garden, Cat Café, Kid Town Toddler-friendly, Dandelion Café, Ball hockey, Volleyball Court, Tex Mex & Taco Café, Tiny Town – a Tiny House village (tiny brewery, tiny shops, tiny eats).

Mountaineer Coffee, Yellow Dog Eats, Running Specialty Shop, Roasted Pig Restaurant (with live music and rooftop dancing). An Arcade, Cajun Restaurant, Einstein Bros, Steak House, Dog Park Café, somewhere adults and kids can express themselves artistically, Bone Fish Grill, Street Tacos, Coffee Shop/ wine bar 2nd-floor rooftop lake view, bakery, ice cream shop.

Rental Shop (Golf Carts, Electric Standup Scooters, Paddleboards),  Paddle Board club, Rooftop deck brewery, doughnut shop, A Short Street W/6 spaces for local food trucks.  Skateboard & BMX bike shop. European Coffee shop (pet-friendly), a parking lot, Tapas w/ rooftop bar, Art Gallery, Seafood Oyster bar, BNB house/mini hotel,

Hostel for athletes, dog park for downtown, swimming pool/community, ole people hang out, bookstore/café, scuba shop w/lessons by the lake, and my choice: A Downtown Library (if not on that property, somewhere in the Downtown area).

Jayson Stringfellow brought an idea back to his hometown. He saw something, said something, and the idea has become a popular, creative resource in downtown Clermont.

(Thank you Jayson)

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