Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thanks for Downtown Fonthill & Summerfest

For decades residents have wanted an improved Downtown Fonthill. Ten year ago, some business owners and residents approached the Town with a vision for the Downtown and the Communities in Bloom Committee formed to clean-up the Town and collect funds for beautification.

Four years ago, just after I started serving as Mayor, I called a community meeting about how we could take action to improve our downtowns. During that meeting, concerned citizens formed the Downtown Beautification Committee to plan fa├žade improvements and other ways to breathe new life into Fonthill’s and Fenwick’s Downtowns. Eventually, the Committee became sanctioned by Town Council.

Over the years several residents served tirelessly on that committee, including: Gary Accursi, (Chair, representing the Pelham Business Association (PBA) and now Council), Acacia Ashick (Mayor's Youth Advisory Council (MYAC)), Todd Barber (PBA), Edie Basaraba (Communities in Bloom (CIB)), Emma Caldwell (MYAC), Elizabeth Carmichael (MYAC), Bea Clark (Pelham Active Transportation Committee), Sharon Cook (former Councillor), Joan Crowther (Citizen Representative), Patty Fagan (PBA), Andrew Gemel (MYAC), Andrea Johnson (Heritage Pelham Advisory Committee), Mary Lamb (Pelham Historical Society), Shirley Lazareth (CIB), Don Marr (CIB), Joe Mergl (CIB), Jenna Piunno (MYAC), Muriel Roden (Pelham Horticultural Society), Bill Sheldon (Citizen), Frank Sicoli (Citizen), and Craig Larmour (Town Staff).

Two years ago, the Downtown Beautification Committee worked with the community to develop design guidelines – the “look and feel” for developments in the Downtowns. At the same time, Council set aside funds to incent improvements for property owners. And, after the Town applied for stimulus infrastructure funding, the Federal and Provincial governments approved up to $850,000 each. The Niagara Region also provided $100,000 for streetscaping.

One year ago, the Town finalized the engineering design for the road, water, and streetscaping improvements and began construction. Council also approved the incentive program.

Six-months ago, another group of dedicated volunteers formed to organize a celebration at the end of construction. The Pelham Summerfest Committee included: Todd Barber (Chair), Gary Accursi (Council), Leigh Atherton (Zest), Cathy Berkhout-Bosse (ReMax), Bea Clark (Active Transportation Committee), Santa Cyopik (Communities in Bloom), Catherine King (Council), Paul Roode (Indulgence), David Watt (Zest), John Wink (PBA), Katie Thorpe and Vickie VanRavensway (Town Staff). Many, many more volunteers assisted them to create Summerfest.

On Saturday, July 23, we celebrated the official opening of a newly revitalized Downtown Fonthill with the First Annual Summerfest.

On behalf of Council, I appreciate the vision, dedication, and tremendous work by so many volunteers and staff to revitalize the downtown and celebrate a new beginning with Pelham Summerfest. Thank you and congratulations on a resounding and overwhelming success!