Main Street Pittsboro is a committee of business leaders, residents, town staff and elected officials who work together to ensure that Pittsboro’s historic downtown is preserved as a vibrant community center.
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PITTSBORO — Main Street Pittsboro is a committee of business leaders, residents, town staff and elected officials who work together to ensure that Pittsboro’s historic downtown is preserved as a vibrant community center.
And the group has a new challenge: it recently learned that N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper has $1 million appropriated to the program in his proposed budget.
Main Street’s chairman, Maria Parker-Lewis, who owns Pittsboro General Store and Roadhouse and 39 West Catering with her husband Greg Lewis, says the group is working to keep Pittsboro vibrant.
“The overall goal of Main Street Pittsboro is to nurture an economically vital, vibrant downtown which showcases our unique and historic character,” Parker-Lewis said. “You know, so many places use the words ‘live, work, play,’ and I hesitate to repeat them, but that is exactly what our historic downtowns were and that is what Pittsboro still is today. This is a town where you can settle in, get involved with your community, engage with or own a local business, raise a family and/or retire. The work of Main Street Pittsboro is to preserve this way of life by strengthening our business district through beautification efforts, advocacy, promotion, preservation and celebration.”
The group has met regularly since it was accepted into the N.C. Dept. of Commerce’s North Carolina Main Street program in 2011. According to the Department of Commerce’s website, the program is the Main Street America coordinating program for the state. The program’s staff “facilitate downtown economic development” in designated communities. This includes strategic downtown economic development planning and technical assistance, Main Street program guidance, and downtown development education and training. N.C. Main Street held its annual three-day conference in Salisbury last week, which Parker-Lewis attended.
“We are, each of us — businesses, residents, town staff, elected officials — working hard and making great strides in strengthening our economic center, inviting visitors in to shop, dine and celebrate with us,” she said. “It is vital that we offer a beautiful, inviting and SAFE environment for these visitors and, also, for ourselves.”
Parker-Lewis notes that the town staff, Pittsboro Police Department and the town’s Board of Commissioners have supportive of their efforts.
“They are as enthusiastic as we are about cultivating an environment that is safe, beautiful, vibrant and inviting,” she said, “one that supports our businesses and residents and attracts visitors to our community.”
The group has made a lot of progress downtown. Recently it installed handrails to help people more safely navigate uneven steps. The group also replaced the faded “Historic Pittsboro” boulevard bannerswith new, vibrant ones and banners that provide a “festive feel and promote shopping and dining.” Additional trash receptacles have been installed, including new recycling containers. The group has hosted informational meetings concerning major projects and have advocated on behalf of local businesses as they navigate through permitting procedures and fees. In addition, the Façade Grant Program has helped many business and property owners enhance their building’s appearance.
“The biggest effort we are working towards is the improvement of the sidewalks on Hillsboro,” Parker-Lewis siad. “We have been working with Liz Parham at the N.C. Main Street Center to get funding to help with this much needed project.”
The group is also working with other downtown organizations to expand and create events while advocating for policies that support that effort.
“Events are a great way to promote an area, establish it as a destination location and, also, instill a sense of community,” Parker-Lewis said. “Our work includes promotion and celebration. This does not necessarily mean that we organize the events ourselves, but that we work to create an environment that enables organizations to more easily host their downtown activities that will draw people into the heart of our community.”
Parker-Lewis noted the Pittsboro Business Association’s efforts in organizing the fourth Summer Fest this year and the fifth Tree Lighting Celebration.
“Pittsboro is very fortunate to have a large group of engaged business owners who make up The Pittsboro Business Association,” she said. “Main Street Pittsboro recognizes the value of these celebrations and has been a major sponsor each year. We have also advocated on their behalf for street closure and necessities like extra trash cans and port-a johns.”
The group is also working on the ability for organizers to offer alcohol throughout their special outdoor celebrations. The town’s Board of Commissioners has already approved amending the local ordinances to permit it. The permit allowing alcohol is a quintessential piece of an event the group is organizing for May 19 called Local on Main: PBO’s Farm and Arts Dinner. The event will be a fundraising event to benefit Main Street Pittsboro so it can continue the work of supporting the local business community.
“This will be an open-air feast right in the middle of Hillsboro Street,” Parker-Lewis said. “We will be showcasing local musicians, local chefs, local farms and local artists. Have I said, ‘local’ enough? I can’t help it. That’s what we are, what we believe in and what we support. Local beer and alcohol vendors are an important component of this tasting focused affair.”
“I am just so excited that we have this opportunity to highlight the best that Pittsboro has to offer,” she said. “These very things are part of what causes people to want to come to Pittsboro and stay here.”
While at the N.C. Main Street Conference last week, Parker-Lewis learned that Gov. Cooper is including Pittsboro in his proposed budget.
“He is suggesting an amount of $1,000,000 to be dedicated to Pittsboro’s downtown streetscapes,” Parker-Lewis said. “We are excited to receive his vote of confidence in our vision and appreciate that he recognizes the immediate necessity of this project. The budget still needs to pass the House and Senate, so we urge everyone to contact Senator Valerie Foushee and Representative Robert Reives and encourage them to support this line item.”