Despite what some Leesburg officials called "an impassioned plea" from Mayor Robert Sevila at a recent town council meeting, the council decided not to enter Leesburg in the Main Street program, a national program that encourages the revitalization of main streets and jurisications with populations between 5,000 and 50,000.

Of the 47 cities designated by the program as eligible, five will be chosen to participate for a three-year period.

The national office supplies the expertise and local jurisdictions supply the money and the manpower, officials said.

The $35,000 cost for the first year of the program was the deciding factor in the 4-3 vote, according to council member Charles Williams, who voted against the measure.

"The downtown business association didn't have its act together as far as their one-half share goes and the council didn't either," he said. "If the program is offered next year I hope we'll be better prepared to apply for it."

Council members who approved the program indicated a meal tax and a transient occupancy tax could pay the town's share, a move Williams said he was against.

Norman Myers, owner and manager of a downtown clothing store, said that he had obtained a commitment for $10,000 from local merchants in the two weeks he had to work on it and had agreed to supply office space for a project manager.

"Leesburg is the jewel in the crown of Loudoun County," he said. "It would have been a labor of love to participate in this program."