Our Future With The Main Street Program Is In The Hands Of The ‘My Will Be Done’ Councilmen

When I read the erroneous remarks from the City Council meeting that keep declaring there is no difference between Main Street Accreditation and Affiliate, I repeat, there is a difference, dagnabbit!  An Affiliate status has resources that help new communities get started with this successful program, BUT, Accreditation comes along later when you submit the yearly paperwork proving that you are following and achieving the Programs guidelines. If that is accomplished and you are given accreditation status, you become eligible for grants that affiliation cannot participate in.  No accreditation, no money. If you missed my recent blog about this subject, CLICK HERE

In March I attended the NC Main Street Program in New Bern, NC. Kevin Harris was the only one from our City Government. I met the whole planning and development staff of other counties.  City Managers attended.  CLICK HERE for the post I wrote -We’re On The Road to New Bern.

This isn’t the TV show, Kids Say The Darndest Things. It is the reality show on City Council where those who are committed to the MY WILL BE DONE agenda make no room for this valuable and proven program to assist cities in reinvigorating historic downtown. To insist that there is no difference between an affiliate designation and an accredited status hopes you aren’t that interested in the first place or likely to give much thought to what losing our accreditation may have cost us. It isn’t that the MY WILL BE DONE agenda doesn’t know better, they don’t want you to know better. Here is what you hear.

“But it seems to me there’s really not a big difference between being accredited and affiliate”, Knight said. “And plus all the work that we are currently doing downtown and what we are proposing to do downtown, I think would be more than an A-plus once these projects come into fruition.” The City Manager said, “I agree with you., the paper seemed to have been hung up on accreditation versus affiliation when, in fact, there’s really no difference at all.”  This is wrong.

Here is the point of accreditation and what it means to have lost ours.

“Accredited communities are eligible for occasional funding opportunities through the National Main Street Center, that are only available to accredited communities, such as the National Park Service Main Street Façade Improvement Grant program that Lenoir, Elkin, and Elizabeth City received – $46,000 each for façade improvements in downtown; the Grills Fund for COVID recovery initiatives, that New Bern received; and from time to time, other opportunities that may arise. Accredited communities are eligible for awards, like the Great American Main Street award. Goldsboro was a runner up for this award a few years ago and it is a national recognition. Goldsboro received another grant for around $35,000. Again – only accredited communities are eligible.”                                                                       —Elizabeth (Liz) H. Parham, Director, NC Main Street

To think that the City of Rocky Mount continues to be in the hands of but a few. What a power trip it must be to know that MY WILL BE DONE continues without a judgment day, allowing the MY WILL agenda to continue on. For this, we are facing immeasurable damage to our reputation, credit ratings; bullying, and deflection go on. If only our lost accreditation were a single problem before us. Alas, there is much more.

 

 

 

 

 

YES, It Is A Big Deal – When Rocky Mount Does Not Meet Main Street Accreditation Standards for both 2018 and 2019

 

I am of the opinion that if it is really important to you, regardless of your busy schedule and obligations, you will find a way to pursue a passion. You will get up early, stay up late, forego something, but you will figure out a way to walk and chew gum at the same time because it means that much to you. When I read that Rocky Mount has lost its Main Street accreditation again, it tells me  our current city leadership finds this Main Street Approach to community transformation unimportant.  The Main Street Program offers support for community-led downtown revitalization. We need all the help we can get.

As far back as the mid-1970’s the National Trust for Historic Preservation, concerned about threats to  Main Streets’ commercial architecture and a need to stimulate economic activity in small-city downtowns, launched a program that led to the creation of the Main Street Four-Point Approach and the establishment of the National Main Street Center in Washington,D.C.  Main Street is a national program that has changed the way governments, planners and developers view preservation.

The Main Street approach sells a positive image of the commercial district and encourages consumers and investors to live, work, shop, and play in the Main Street district. This means getting Main Street into top physical shape. Capitalizing on its best assets, such as historic buildings, an creating an inviting atmosphere. No city in North Carolina has a Main Street like ours. Filled with significant architecture, building by building, worthy of saving and repurposing. Here are the depositories of new dreams, where stories of the people of the past and their businesses remain in the dust motes captured in the sunlight through the window glass.

I can’t help wax poetic about the historic significance of preservation, which I hope resonates with you. The Main Street Program provides funding opportunities. Accreditation is a big deal.  The Main Street Solutions Fund supports small businesses; grants that assist planning agencies and small businesses with efforts to revitalize downtowns by creating jobs, funding infrastructure improvements and rehabilitating buildings. The federal funds from The Community Development Block Grant are designed to return vacant or underutilized commercial buildings to economic use for new and/or expanded business.

Keeping up with the Main Street Accreditation process is routine ‘busy work’ if you are committed to the purpose of belonging, and intent on tapping into the collective wisdom and experience this group provides. The Process evaluates established commercial district revitalization programs based on 10 basic performance standards set by Main Street America. David Wise, the new downtown community development coordinator, worked on Main Street revitalization efforts in prior lives before coming to us. He has been recently appointed as administrator of Rocky Mount’s Main Street program. In his experienced hands, we should be able to right this wrong and get with the program, as they say! If you are interested and willing to help serve on the Main Street Program committee and can bring your expertise to the matter, check with David and let him know as he moves forward.     CONTACT:     david.wise@rockymountnc.gov

FYI: I used direct available information from a draft program manual for the NC Main Street Community when writing about this matter. I don’t think they will mind if it helps answer the question, “What’s this all about, Alfie?”