Preserving what makes our town special

Published 11:06 pm Sunday, May 14, 2017

Continuing our article on factors that affect our continual building of our Central Business District, let me finish with several more that are important and needed along the Harbor District.

One of these factors in our process is the preservation of what makes our town special. Whether it is the architecture and façades of our old buildings or the view of the Pamlico River, every town has something to build upon. We are just luckier than most. Rebuilding means developing an old building that has character and turning it into a hotel, apartments or retail business. These buildings have history and character that are reflective of our past and the residents who live here. They are a part of our history and community pride! Only imagine the stories and deals that were told within their walls. They represent our past and can become a part of our future.

A third step in our rebuilding process is to encourage entrepreneurship. Sustainability for young people interested in opening a business is sometimes not thought of by our young entrepreneurs. They may meet with established and older business owners to share their ideas, but what if we could get Beaufort Community College to offer classes in our Harbor District? They then could discuss the three needs that we have learned: training, financing and logistical support. They then could have a “start your own business” class to help launch new enterprises downtown. Classes could help with the loan process and create a program to coordinate with the city and county government agencies. Rather than becoming frustrated with codes — building, fire and health codes — they could all meet in these sessions. This could assure more sustainability.

Parking: This is so vital in any attempt to bring shoppers and businesses to our downtown. Pedestrians enjoy curbside parking, as this provides easy access to retails stores but also provides a shield from possible errant traffic. Experts say that when fear arrives, pedestrians depart. Have you ever heard of an outside eatery next to a freeway? Our rear parking needs to be improved. Rear parking and entrances to retail stores can be improved for better parking and access to stores. Also, these lots could be used more for events, festivals and markets of all kinds to serve a dual purpose, thus increasing our foot traffic in downtown Washington. As our central business district grows (and it will), parking will be a needed attraction to shoppers and any potential prospects interested in locating in our Harbor District. Parking can drive our economic development more than ever in our attempt to bring more energy to downtown.

In conclusion, please give our local merchants the first opportunity. They really work hard and are so supportive of Washington, and we need to support them in return. If the Washington Harbor District Alliance can ever be of help to you, please do not hesitate to call. Always remember to shop, dine and play in downtown Washington, North Carolina, and if you are not too tired, you can take a walk with the H-Rob! Love y’all.

Harold Robinson is the director of development at the Washington Harbor District Alliance.