Monday, May 23, 2011

Done soon, support downtown Fonthill businesses

A theme last week was the need to support of Downtown Fonthill businesses while moving toward a new, vibrant vision.

First, John Wink, President of the Pelham Business Association (PBA), presented to Council last Monday. Wink expressed the frustration some that downtown businesses have felt with the revitalization process. He explained that some Pelham Street stores have seen a 50% drop in revenues and have laid-off employees.

He made it clear that the PBA supports the reconstruction of the street, burying the utilities, and the streetscaping; the duration of the construction, however, is negatively affecting businesses. Wink urged Council to pressure the contractors to get the job done as quickly as possible.

Part of a special organizing committee, Wink also reminded Council of the Saturday, July 23 Summerfest to celebrate end of the work.

Later in the meeting Council urged the general contractor – Brennan Construction – to commit to completing the project on or before July 8 and well in advance of Summerfest.

Then, on Tuesday morning I spoke to the Pelham / Welland Chamber of Commerce. I indicated that construction on Pelham St. is nearly done. I also expressed concern for local businesses and encouraged Chamber members to support downtown Fonthill businesses.

In his closing remarks, John Krall, emcee and past-President of the Chamber, urged members to “reset your GPS to take you back into downtown Fonthill.” Krall stated that “these businesses need your support.”

Later in the week, while buying coffee at Café on Main, I bumped into Todd Barber. As you may know, Todd designed and is overseeing the construction of the new building between Butterflies and Zest. He took me on a tour of the new retail spaces on street-level, the bottom retail / office space, and the apartments on the second floor. An impressive design, the building serves as a landmark of the new vision Council has for the downtowns.

Then, on Friday, Rocco Spano introduced himself and showed me his plans for his new business. You see, Rocco is renovating the space at the base of Churchill on Pelham Street that will produce and serve homemade, high-quality gelato. He plans to open by Canada Day.

Council and I are concerned with both the length of the reconstruction and the effect on downtown businesses. I also encourage you to “reset you GPS” to downtown Fonthill and to support local businesses as we complete the downtown revitalization project.