Shell-Motiva $100K donation kicks off efforts to revitalize town’s Main Street
A $100,000 grant from Shell-Motiva’s Norco Economic Development Foundation (NEDF) is kicking off a long-desired revitalization project for Norco.
Sal Digirolamo, president of the Norco Civic Association (NCA), said the Norco Revitalization Project, estimated to cost $320,000, is aimed at rejuvenating the community’s main street.
“It’s the first thing everybody sees when they come to Norco and we want to dress it up,” Digirolamo said. “It’s been our goal for 10 to 15 years. We’ve had a lot of support from some of our industries and we think that Norco is a terrific town, but what is displayed on the River Road doesn’t reflect that.”
NCA has been trying to get the Norco Revitalization Project started since 2005.
“After many meetings, correspondence and setbacks, we were successful in getting a $100,000 grant from the NEDF to do Phase 1,” he said. “It is our hope that our neighboring industries and business will support this project so that we can leverage the funding provided by the Norco Economic Development Foundation and complete all phases.”
Phase 1 work, designed by Campo Designs – Architects and planned to begin this month, will upgrade the area in front of businesses that parallel River Road between Apple and Good Hope streets.
The scope of the work will include: New brick sidewalks that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, new brick planters across all businesses, historic light poles to light up sidewalks and parking, matching business sign poles for all businesses, landscaping in the planters including small scrubs and other low-maintenance plants and small handrails at each set of the steps between parking and sidewalks where elevation changes.
“This proposal, prepared by a professional, local architect, attempts to build on the existing character of the original buildings and upgrade the facades, sidewalks, signage and lighting of this strip to create an inviting business corridor that restores the unique character of this ‘Main Street,’” Digirolamo said.
He thanked Duane Digirolamo for proposing the project, business owners for allowing the upgrade and the NEDF for the donation, as well as Tracie D. Howes for writing the grant request, John Campo for the design, River Parishes Community Development Corp. for handling invoices and the many NCA officers who helped bring about the project.
Saying the area targeted for revitalization is locally known as “up front” or “the River Road side of Norco,” Stephen Weber, a longtime Norco supporter and principal of Destrehan High School, said the area also is considered “the centerpiece of the town.”
As a longtime advocate of updating Norco, Weber said the project would help create a true town center that can be built upon.
“The goal is to restore the aesthetics of that area,” he said, recalling a town where he and his children grew up and everyone knew each other. “Norco is a diverse, but still close-knit community.”
Weber said it has remained this way even with the town’s strong relationship with business, particularly the petrochemical industry of which generated the $100,000 donation from Shell-Motiva.
Weber said an example of the town and businesses working together is their working together to organize a celebration next year in March or April to recognize Norco’s 100th anniversary as a town.
Founded in 1916, the town has a history so intertwined with the petrochemical industry that its own name is an acronym for the New Orleans Refining Co. (NORCO.
The community’s name, formerly called Sellers after a wealthy family there, changed in 1911 when the land was purchased by Royal Dutch/Shell Oil and the name became Norco sometime around 1926.
“There’s still that small town community feeling in Norco,” said Weber of a closeness that he has sought to nurture and grow by helping to bring back community features like the area’s Christmas parade that begins and ends on Apple Street.“The symbiosis is there with the positive relationship with industry and the community. They give back and they work together.”