Turning the tide
The fact that Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association members and Downtown Washington on the Waterfront representatives mingled last week at the Turnage Theaters complex bodes well for downtown Washington and the rest of the city.
It’s no secret the two organizations, or at least some of their members, were at odds with each other over several issues related to the future of the city’s central business district. Last week’s gathering, at a meeting of the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association, can be taken as an indicator that the two organizations are moving along a path of cooperation and not one of antagonizing one another.
Bob Trescott, the new executive director of Downtown Washington on the Waterfront, spoke at the meeting. That say’s a lot about what appears to be an improving relationship between Downtown Washington on the Waterfront and the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association. Gary Tomasulo, president of the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association, discussed recent changes within Downtown Washington on the Waterfront. That also says a lot about the two organizations striving to work together for a common cause — improving downtown.
Earlier this year during the City Council’s budget deliberations, a dispute between the two organizations erupted. Some people called for the city not to provide Downtown Washington on the Waterfront with more city money, saying the nonprofit organization had done little, if anything, significant with the money it had been receiving from the city.
It looks like the dispute, which included conflicts of personalities and philosophies about how to improve downtown, has dissipated within the past several months. It’s time for both groups to put that dispute behind them. There are signs that has happened and is happening.
Last month during Music in the Streets, be it coincidence or not, the two organizations set up their booths next to one another. The merchants’ booth even included a sign promoting a Downtown Washington on the Waterfront event. That’s a small step, but it’s a significant step in repairing the damage the dispute caused.
Making downtown better should be about cooperation and what’s best for downtown. Improving downtown should not be about “your” way or “my” way. It should be about “our” way.
As mentioned before, groups with interests in improving downtown shouldn’t be worrying too much, if at all, about what other organizations are doing. Each of those groups should be concentrating on what it should be doing to bring more people and more dollars to downtown and the city. Doing that would be more productive than spending time worrying about what another group is doing.
So, seeing the executive director of Downtown Washington on the Waterfront and the president of the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association sweating together at the city’s Fourth of July celebration, rubbing elbows at Music in the Streets and sharing chips and dip at a merchants meeting holds promise for a wonderful future for downtown Washington.
Getting along with one another is a must when it comes to what’s best for downtown and the rest of the city. A healthy downtown means a healthy city. A healthy relationship between Downtown Washington on the Waterfront and the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association is a must for a healthy downtown.
It looks like that relationship, once sick, is being cured.