WHDA is working for you

Published 8:22 pm Saturday, February 22, 2014

By Trent Tetterton

As you browse one of Washington’s unique downtown shops, enjoy lunch in one of our many popular restaurants, stroll down Main Street during Music in the Streets, or pick up a loaf of fresh-made bread and some locally farmed veggies at the Saturday Market, you’re enjoying the fruits of the labor of the Washington Harbor District Alliance (better known as WHDA).

WHDA is a dedicated, mostly volunteer group whose primary purpose it is to promote economic stability and business growth of the downtown harbor district while enhancing it’s beauty, vibrancy and pedestrian appeal and preserving its historic significance. When you are enjoying your walk along the waterfront, a concert, playing with your kids, a picnic or even the bathroom facilities in Festival Park, all of these opportunities, and many more, are brought to you by the City of Washington and the dedicated efforts of the Washington Harbor District Alliance working together to create a better life for all Washington residents.

Notice the Pamlico lighthouse replica currently under construction on the downtown waterfront, which will house public restrooms, boater’s bathrooms with showers and a boaters’ laundry room as well as the dock attendant’s station. The City of Washington in the last City Council meeting approved a grant application to be submitted to build a “People’s Pier” which, if the grant is approved, will be on the waterfront side of Harding Square (at the visual end of Market Street) and will be 75-percent grant funded, with the remaining 25 percent coming from an “in-kind” contribution by the city and private contributions raised and/or contributed by WHDA.

The City of Washington and WHDA have a documented long-term plan entitled “Washington Waterfront Visualization and Reinvestment Strategy” which was adopted by the community and City Council in 2009. Since then, city leadership and staff, and WHDA have worked together to accomplish many of the projects and goals identified in the strategic plan. Each of the aforementioned projects is referenced in the plan … and, stay tuned, there’s more to come!

In addition to these very tangible and visible projects, WHDA along with the City of Washington has lead efforts or been involved in other significant accomplishments that include:

Worked with the city manager, the city’s director of planning, and the Parks and Recreation Advisory committee to prepare, present to city council and gain approval for a new waterfront docks management plan.

Assisted the Beaufort County Arts Council and other key participants to successfully purchase the Turnage Theater property on Main Street, in preparation for the creation of a regional arts center and the reopen the theater.

Forged a coalition of corporate sponsors that provide funding for many great events and work that goes on in downtown Washington. These include the aforementioned projects and events like Music in the Streets, the Marine Market, the weekly Saturday Farmers’ Market, Taste the Good Life in Little Washington, the 4th of July celebration, Artwalk and Downtown Motown, among others.

WHDA actively solicits people from neighboring communities to visit downtown Washington, encouraging them to shop in our boutique retail shops, dine in our several great restaurants and enjoy our fabulous historical, downtown waterfront with lots of neighboring green space. We also have a variety of evening entertainment and some of the best artisan centers and galleries anywhere. It’s very safe and we have plenty of parking. Who knows? If you don’t already live here, you probably won’t want to leave.

Please consider joining WHDA in making your downtown Washington a vibrant, fun place to spend your time and that of your friends and family. Help us continue to bring good things to Little Washington and to preserve the great things we are so fortunate to have in our wonderful city! Make an investment in Washington by spending your time and money here and encourage others to, as well. Keeping your dollars local keeps your downtown alive and thriving.

If you have questions or comments about downtown Washington and/or WHDA please email Beth Byrd, WHDA director, at whda@washingtononthewater.com. Ask how you may join “Friends of the Alliance” and/or WHDA. You can also visit our website at: www.whda.org.