Use it or lose it

Published 3:21 am Monday, June 22, 2009

By Staff
Anyone with questions about the potential for Washington’s waterfront would have seen at least just a glimpse of that potential if he or she visited the waterfront Saturday.
Three major events were taking place along the waterfront at the same time: North Carolina INT League’s Washington Wake Fest, a car show by the Coastal Plains chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America and Downtown Washington on the Waterfront’s Saturday Market. And don’t forget the folks who were at the waterfront to walk on the promenade and boardwalk, sit on a park bench to enjoy a view of the Pamlico River or get in that daily jog.
Such events bring visitors, not to mention area residents, to the waterfront. Some people will tell you that some of these events don’t result in increased sales for downtown merchants. Well, there is no guarantee that such events will do just that.
But when an event draws hundreds, if not thousands, of people to downtown and the waterfront, it’s up to business owners to do the necessary things to bring people in off the sidewalks an into their establishments. The Washington Tourism Development Authority, the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association, the Beaufort County Arts Council and Downtown Washington on the Waterfront are doing their jobs by organizing and supporting events that bring folks to the waterfront and downtown.
During Music in the Streets on Friday night, there were probably at least 3,000 people downtown during the three-hour event. It’s a safe bet to say that many downtown shops were closed. Closed doors mean no customers going in those doors and exiting them with their purchases.
It was heartening to see the waterfront crowded with people participating or just observing all the activities.
Washington resident Melvin Grant, observing the Washington Wake Fest, said he was pleased to see the waterfront being used. He would like for it to be used even more.
People have long said the waterfront is among the city’s greatest assets.
The events at the waterfront Saturday prove that and provide an indication of the untapped potential the waterfront holds for Washington. Just as we don’t want the Pamlico River to dry up, we must not let the potential the waterfront offers dry up.
It’s kind of like this old saying: Use it or lose it.