By Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
Lynda Annick, President of Ashtabula Downtown Development Association, and I met at Michaels Furniture on Main Avenue to talk about the meeting for the Economic Restructuring Committee, which met at the other end of the street at Casa Capelli's on Monday for lunch. The tiramisu was delicious.
A lot of ground was covered, so I dropped by to see Lynda, who works as Michael's to get answers to a few questions.
At the Monday meeting we had moved in orderly fashion through an agenda which included the security service, Cleveland-based Premier Protective Services, which began patrolling the streets on April 15th. Initial results, it seems, have been very positive, with fewer complaints coming in.
Discussion went on to continued funding when the original pledges end in August.
The pilot program is being funded by local businesses in the downtown district. Signature Health is the primary contributor, along with at least 10 other downtown businesses, who are also contributing toward the cost of the program.
From there we moved on to restoring the old Shea theater, repurposing the building after the Senior Center moves to the unoccupied bank building down the street. Ashtabulans love the old theater. Making it economically viable includes restoration and compatible usages. These issues took some time during the meeting but resulted in several potential lines of action, now being pursued.
It was wonderful to watch the group working together, each focused on the problem at hand and how it could be solved. Accomplishing any large undertaking necessitates effective listening and strong cooperation - but it also helps when people know and trust each other, which these people so obviously do. Roberta Madar Pruett, Chairperson conducted the first meeting with warmth and focus, a tough combination. Also attending were Bill Tokarczyk, Debby Cumberland, Carol Johnson, ADDA Secretary, Lucy Hensley and Lisa Bruckman.
After an efficient hour a musical chairs moment occurred and the next meeting began, bringing the Promotions Committee chairperson, Marty Cephas, Julie Hunt, Shelley Lipps, and finally, Martha Shippy.
Promotions dove right into plans for an ongoing mixer where local people connected to Downtown can get to know each other, encouraging cooperation. The first will take place at the newly opened Stake Out Restaurant on Main Avenue, Monday, 5:30pm June 17th. A drawing for a $50 gift certificate will be held. Other provocative and amusing events were planned, so don't miss it.