The Four-Point Approach: a look at the design committee

Published 9:13 pm Sunday, July 10, 2016

Thanks for your patience as we go through the Four-Point Approach to revitalization of our Harbor District. Having been on the job now for six months, I too have a much broader understanding concerning the Main Street refurbishing efforts undertaken by the Washington Harbor District Alliance.

Hardly seems like six months, but honestly, it has been a most enjoyable opportunity, and while the learning curve is sharper than I expected, I’m still enthusiastic and positive about all that it has taught me. With that being said, today let us focus on the third approach — the Design Committee.

The Design Committee’s goal is to improve the overall appearance of the Harbor District as measured by surveys from its merchants. Part of the WHDA’s mission is to restore, rebuild and revitalize Washington’s business district through the efforts of the design committee and its goal. As with any goal, there has to be objectives and strategies, and the committee’s one objective is to create a visually pleasing environment that helps our branding efforts (as a quaint and charming waterfront town) and to increase the number of visitors who visit our beautiful business district. Many initiatives have been used, such as flags along Stewart Parkway, swings on the parkway, helping with People’s Pier and possibly adding plants to the poles on Main and Market streets, among other projects.

There are four major strategies used by this committee, and one is to identify the buildings in need of maintenance and make a concerted effort to disguise them while promoting the opportunity they present. Many of our oldest buildings are in need of repair and a good facelift, while preserving the history they all share.

Another strategy that will come to fruition hopefully in the fall of 2016 is the addition of the wayfinding plan, thanks to the approval of the City Council. This has been under review for several years and will guide visitors as they travel to the business district for the first time. The third strategy is to create an inventory list of areas in need of maintenance and to make improvements to 25 percent of them.

Sometimes this is difficult because many of the owners are in another town and are hard to get up with. The last strategy employed is to build consensus for the streetscape plan and to concentrate on the alleyway connectivity. Many of us enjoyed riding our bikes in the alleys to Main Street as youngsters, and they can be made more appealing.

This committee has a huge undertaking but has been moving in the right direction. Committee members have implemented visions and strategies to help them attain all of their attainable goals. Through their hard work, we all will see many improvements to the environment within our beautiful business district.

The WHDA continues to seek volunteers and will always be asking for your support to provide our citizenry with opportunities otherwise not afforded. Please, if you can help and take an hour or two to be of help, please give us a call. And until next week, please always shop, dine and play in Washington and … take a walk with The H-Rob!

Harold Robinson is the executive director of the Washington Harbor District Alliance.