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Merchants support Main Street review
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An evaluation of the Main Street program has received support from several downtown businesses.

A group of business owners attended the Covington City Council meeting on Tuesday night to show their support for a 30-plus page report prepared by Christopher Jones with NewTown Partners.

The report reviewed the current conditions of Main Street and suggested changes that could be made to help create a better downtown. It included four sections - organization, economic development, marketing and public relations and event planning and management - which all had several suggestions of how to make recommended changes.

Jones was hired as a consultant to review the Main Street Covington program in October 2012 by the city. The review was presented at a city council meeting on Jan. 7.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Teresa Waters, a downtown business and property owner, spoke on behalf of the group. Waters told the council she has spoken with several business and they all believe many of the suggestions from the report should be implemented.

“We’ve all read the latest consultant’s report of the Main Street Program and very interested in it we’ve all got a vested interest in how well the economic development of the downtown progresses, Waters said.

“We agree with what the consultant has put into the very detailed report that he gave us and we really just want to see that this is put into place.”

Waters, with the About Covington to Madison magazine, said she meets with her customers several times a month and that there is a consensus of different ideas that will help to move downtown forward.

“The welfare of the downtown is just very important to us,” she said. “Just to see that a professional has come in and has made his recommendations — if this is the way that Main Street needs to be run, this is how we as a collective group want it to be carried out.

“I’m just here to say as a representative of the downtown businesses here that we would like to see this report carried out and whatever we need to do to help see it out, we’re game,” Waters said.

During the Main Street Quarterly report, Dan Walden, chair of Main Street Covington, said there would be discussions about the report and how to implement some of the recommendations at Main Street’s annual retreat.
“I want to thank Ms. Waters for her thoughtful comments about the recent report we received from Chris Jones and NewTown. We take that information very seriously and we are currently digesting it, Walden said.

“Our plan is to dig into it during our Spring Retreat which will be held on March 14 at a time to be scheduled,” he said. “As with all of our meetings and all of our retreats, you all elected officials are welcome, citizens are welcomed and so we welcome you to come and provide your input as we make our plans moving forward.”

A few council members had questions about the retreat and the report from NewTown Partners. Councilwoman Janet Goodman asked Walden what specifically would be the focus of the retreat.

“The main focus will be taking a look at this report from NewTown Partners, trying to distil it down and figure out how we move forward with those recommendations,” Walden said.

Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams asked Walden if the board had already discussed how they would implement the report or if it would be discussed for the first time during the retreat, which is held annually twice a year.
“We received the report from NewTown Partners at our January board meeting,” Walden said. “We’ve asked the board members to take a close look at it and be prepared to discuss it in detail at our February meeting, so that we will know where we are going when we get to March.“

“There have been discussions among members of the board. We’ve had discussions with the mayor. We’ve had discussions with others, but the discussion with the whole board hasn’t happened yet.”