Main Street fu­ture still un­de­cided

The Covington News - - THE SECOND FRONT - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

The Main Street Cov­ing­ton Board of Di­rec­tors is hold­ing its an­nual gen­eral meet­ing Thurs­day evening, but mem­bers are still un­sure of the fu­ture, be­cause plans to move the down­town ad­vo­cacy group un­der the Cov­ing­ton-New­ton County Cham­ber of Com­merce have bogged down.

The com­mit­tee tasked with fig­ur­ing out the fu­ture of the pro­gram has been formed but hasn’t been able to meet be­cause of sched­ul­ing con­flicts, City Man­ager Leigh Anne Knight said Tues­day.

Com­mit­tee mem­bers are Cov­ing­ton coun­cil mem­bers Chris Smith and Janet Good­man; Main Street board Chair Serra Phillips and board mem­ber Su­san Kirk; county Com­mis­sioner Nancy Schulz and land­scape ar­chi­tect Deb­bie Bell; and cham­ber Pres­i­dent Hunter Hall and board Chair Paul Mur­phy. Cov­ing­ton city of­fi­cials are also in­volved be­cause Cov­ing­ton cur­rently pro­vides all fund­ing for Main Street.

Knight said she hoped a meet­ing would be set in the “next week or so.” She said no de­ci­sion has been made on hir­ing a new per­ma­nent di­rec­tor. Pre­vi­ously, Cov­ing­ton Mayor Ron­nie John­ston raised the idea of hir­ing a con­sul­tant as the di­rec­tor to work on the pro­gram’s re­or­ga­ni­za­tion and pre­pare the way for a more per­ma­nent di­rec­tor.

John­ston orig­i­nally raised the idea of mov­ing Main Street un­der the cham­ber in late May, and the Cov­ing­ton City Coun­cil voted to ap­prove the move in early June, con­tin­gent upon reach­ing a con­tract with the cham­ber.

John­ston has said he be­lieves putting the Main Street pro­gram, tourism and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ef­forts all un­der the cham­ber’s um­brella will in­crease ef­fec­tive­ness through syn­ergy, and he said he wants down­town events pro­moted more widely to spread the name of Cov­ing­ton around the state and na­tion. The Main Street pro­gram is re­spon­si­ble for mar­ket­ing down­town Cov­ing­ton, in­clud­ing event plan­ning, and help­ing to pro­mote new busi­nesses and aid ex­ist­ing busi­nesses.

An­nual meet­ing

Main Street Chair Phillips said most of the board is made up of new mem­bers, so much of Thurs­day’s 5 p.m. reg­u­lar meet­ing and 6 p.m. an­nual gen­eral meet­ing will fo­cus on get­ting those mem­bers up to speed, in­clud­ing an over­view of the pro­gram and look­ing at what the pro­gram did last year and what is planned for this year.

De­spite the un­cer­tainty around the pro­gram’s fu­ture, Phillips said the Main Street board al­ready has a set plan of work for the 2013-2014 year, which was ap­proved by both the city and state. The board will con­tinue to work on the plan, in­clud­ing or­ga­niz­ing sev­eral events. Phillips said a fun part of the meet­ing will be dis­cussing suc­cess sto­ries of lo­cal down­town busi­nesses from the past year. Both meet­ings will be held at The Cen­ter for Com­mu­nity Preser­va­tion and Plan­ning, 2104 Wash­ing­ton St. SW, Cov­ing­ton.

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