Downtown revitalization groups starting to pull together

Published 3:38 am Friday, February 13, 2009

By Staff
Isn’t cooperation wonderful?
The recommendation by Downtown Washington on the Waterfront that the city reallocate $15,000 that had been earmarked for alley improvements was a charitable move on DWOW’s part. The organization would like to see that money used to keep a popular storefront-improvement program running
It was a smart move on the part of the city to accept that recommendation and reallocate the money.
And it was a monumental moment when Gary Tomasulo, president of the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association, thanked the city and DWOW for helping move the money to the facade program.
It’s no secret that in years past Tomasulo and DWOW did not see eye-to-eye. It hasn’t been two years since Tomasulo accused DWOW of being a “bust.” DWOW, a nonprofit organization, is charged with renewing downtown Washington’s economy and developing a revitalization strategy to accomplish that goal.
At a City Council meeting in May 2007, Tomasulo and another member of the merchants’ group said DWOW accomplished little, if anything, in its three years of existence.
These days, Tomasulo is singing a different tune, and a change in DWOW leadership likely is the main reason.
Just recently, the merchants’ group endorsed the Little Washington Sailing Club’s proposal to run a sailing-instruction program for youth. The program should help attract people to Washington’s waterfront and downtown, which is a good thing for downtown merchants, Tomasulo said.
After several years of playing tug of war with each other, DWOW and the merchants’ group are, for the most part, cooperating with and supporting each other.
It’s about time.
While each organization thinks it knows best how to improve downtown and the waterfront and work to do that, sometimes those views clashed. During the past year or so, the leadership of both groups have adopted the attitude that working together will help each achieve its goal to improve downtown physically and financially.
In summer 2007, city officials asked DWOW merchants’ group members to meet and try to work out their differences. It looks like that request paid off.
There are other groups, such as the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and Citizens for Revitalization, with interests downtown, and their ideas should also be thrown in the mix.
As we’ve said before, groups should work together to improve downtown and not worry about who receives credit. All of our groups should concentrate on bringing more people and more money to downtown and the city. Revitalizing downtown should not restricted to “your” way or “my” way. It should be about “our” way.
Seems like DWOW and the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association have received the message.
Good for them, and good for downtown.