Woodstock official helped enhance town
By Alex Bridges
WOODSTOCK — As the town’s first enhancement coordinator, Jane Beasley often drew praise from the community for improving Woodstock.
Now Beasley plans to step down from the part-time position she’s held for 14 years to spend more time with family. Beasley leaves behind a number of projects created and services implemented that were seen as improvements to the town. Beasley said she expects the next coordinator to have plenty to do with current projects such as the facade improvement program, a new town billboard and a pocket park planned near the Springhouse Tavern.
“It’s time for somebody to take it to the next level,” Beasley said. “We’ve established this much and it’s time for those new, creative, energetic ideas to go on to the next level. There’s so much more that can be done and I want more time with my family.”
Town Manager Reid Wodicka lauded Beasley for her work to enhance Woodstock. The town received 12-15 applications for the position and officials should begin interviews soon. While Beasley recommends the town expand the position to full time, the budget doesn’t include the necessary funding. Town Council may revisit the job status in January.
Beasley called the job a “labor of love” and said it takes more than 20 hours a week to do.
A town committee created the position in 2000 and hired Beasley that November. Once they recruited volunteers for committees, Beasley and the panel began trying “to identify what Woodstock had going for it.” Around that time Walmart began building its store in town.
“It was seen as affecting downtown, but as we moved forward and identified who we were and what we were we found that it actually was an asset,” Beasley recalled. “In reality, it does bring a lot of shoppers, a lot of people in, and a lot of money into the community.”
Beasley helped spearhead some physical enhancement projects — hanging baskets, benches and street signs — and kickstarted some events, such as the annual Light Up Woodstock Christmas tree lighting that now draws more than 3,000 people. The town continues to hold business seminars and sales promotions. The committee also worked on the town’s branding and award-winning signs. Beasley oversaw the creation of the town’s first website in 2004 and then the update in the past year.
Woodstock completed its award-winning streetscape in 2008. But as Beasley explained, the town paid for most of the project with a $1.1 million federal grant. Woodstock fronted 20 percent of the cost as a local match for the grant.
“That was a huge success,” Beasley said. “It was also a trying time.”
While the town reached a consensus of support for the project during the planning process, some residents opposed spending local money on the project just as the economy turned sour.
“They didn’t understand,” Beasley recalled. “They thought it was a waste of money.”
She recalled the project as her biggest challenge.
“I got fired during the streetscape briefly,” Beasley said. “It lasted at least a week.”
Beasley credited the volunteers over the years as her greatest achievement.
“The amount of volunteer time and talents that have been donated to this community over 14 years is phenomenal and to get that pulled together and to take advantage of that as much as we can,” Beasley said. “The people have been the best resources for me, ever.”
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org