Let's work for a better downtown
Is it surprising that City Council member Ginny Miller made a motion to cut funding to Greater New Port Richey Main Street after we rejected her effort to give city funds to slumlords? I think not.
She wants to give money to the folks who have turned New Port Richey into a low-price rental paradise, but nothing to try to help attract people downtown to sustain local businesses. The rest of the council wisely declined to follow her lead in requesting grant funding for residential rental properties.
She indicated to me at the last meeting that her next target would be the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce. I certainly hope that the recorder picked up her comment and that it shows up in the minutes.
As recently as July, the council appeared to have reached a consensus to reduce Main Street funding by 25 percent this coming year and let the Main Street folks know that funding would likely be reduced again in future years. This would have given Greater New Port Richey Main Street a clear road map of what it could expect and Main Street would have to work harder to find alternate funding sources for the future. Instead of working to implement that consensus, Ms. Miller took her frustration out on the Main Street group and moved to kill it.
Ms. Miller wants to see Main Street getting more in dues. She misses the point. As a local businessman, I spend a nominal amount on dues for my memberships in the chamber and Main Street, but I also spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours each year supporting the organizations promoting local businesses. It is the same story for any number of other local businesses I could name. Sure, they pay dues, but that is just a fraction of what they spend supporting our local business community through organizations like Greater New Port Richey Main Street and the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce.
In conversations I've had with downtown merchants this week, it is clear that the decision last week is being broadly interpreted as the city of New Port Richey giving up and throwing in the towel regarding any hope of revitalizing our downtown. That is absolutely, positively the wrong message to be sending in the current economy.
I can only hope one of my colleagues reconsiders his or her ill-advised position and joins me in working toward a better downtown instead of just giving up.
New Port Richey City Council
Rethink funding for Main Street
I know Council member Ginny Miller has never seen the need for or cared for our Main Street program, but as a downtown business owner and resident, I wonder now what her view of the purpose of the city itself is.
Her three priorities can all be had as county residents. If the City Council isn't going to strive for a better quality of life than that which can be had in the county overall, what is the sense of having a city government? It's the Progress Energy Art Gallery, Night in the Tropics, Main Street Blast (and fireworks), along with our top-notch police and fire departments, library, and recreation and aquatic center that set our city a notch above.
While other locations (Trinity, Longleaf, Land O'Lakes) are desperately trying to create a downtown for themselves, Ms. Miller and council member Bob Langford appear to be trying their best to kill ours by downplaying the work that Greater New Port Richey Main Street has done to promote the city. Work, by the way, that would cost much more than the $30,000 that the group is asking for.
Ms. Miller, I was one of the taxpayers that voted for you seven times, and I'm asking you to rethink your opposition to the funding (and I'm a Republican).
James Julian, New Port Richey
Street is a vital part of our city
Do you have any idea of the value to New Port Richey that will be forever wasted? Main Street is what is keeping New Port Richey alive as an entity. Take that away and we are an empty shell.
There is an attempt, nay it is a reality, for areas to disassociate themselves. Everyone wants to be called Trinity now because New Port Richey is a cultural wasteland in their opinion. Take this vibrant and very active group and bid them adieu? Why? It can't be the money that has already been allocated to them.
The $30,000 is a picayune amount for what the city gets: the advertising, the purchase of town benches, portable toilets — all paid by Main Street
When people read about paying to get prisoner's tattoos covered and dressing up a drug addict for a court appearance then find out that their festivals will no longer continue, they can only think of New Port Richey as being dead.
A side benefit is the Progress Energy Art Gallery on Grand Boulevard. This small storefront houses artists of all ages. They have a monthly cycle of exhibits including oils, photography, lithographs, quilts and jewelry. They have authors reading their works and selling books on author's night. They've had lecture series on What is Art? They have a very active poetry group meeting twice monthly to read and compare work. These functions are all very well attended.
How can a stroke of the pen eliminate all this from New Port Richey, especially in our present economy when the average person cannot afford to pay for entertainment or to travel to Dunedin or Clearwater?
Let us think of the community.
Marie Cirile-Spagnuolo, New Port Richey