In a recent town hall meeting, the South Pierce County Historical Society continued discussions on moving forward as a recently designated Washington Main Street Affiliate. The well-attended meeting included local business owners, city residents, building owners, local government and residents from the greater-Eatonville area.
South Pierce County Historical Society President Bob Walter noted that the Main Street program, which is supported by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation under contract to the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, is “preservation-based economic development.”
“The Main Street program is based on small incremental steps,” Walter said. “This is an opportunity to leverage human potential beyond historic preservation.”
Walter outlined the four key points of the program: economic vitality, outreach, design and promotion.
He noted other Main Street efforts in towns across the state that involve historic preservation, revitalization of downtown areas, improvements in livability, updates of town codes to support preservation and repurposing of existing commercial spaces, and creation of new public spaces. Typically, Walter said, non-profit organizations are established to coordinate such Main Street efforts. He said that resources for establishing a non-profit organization, establishing mission and vision statements and engaging the community are available online to Main Street members and affiliates. As a newly designated affiliate, the Eatonville project will have access to these resources, he said.
Guest speaker Kerry Yanasak, executive director of the Puyallup Main Street Association, shared the experiences and successes of the Puyallup Main Street Association’s efforts. Grounded in a 30-year history, the Puyallup Main Street Association sponsors the Puyallup Farmer’s Market and has been strategic about storefront businesses within the downtown area. Yanasak also discussed revenue sources available to Main Street organizations through substantial business and occupation tax credit incentives.
Eatonville Mayor David Baublits attended the meeting, as well.
“We have a chance to serve visitors to our town and generate resources for new and existing town projects,” he said. “Efforts like the Main Steet project help us bring those visitor dollars home.”
The next step will be to draft a mission statement for the non-profit Main Street initiative. Community members indicated a willingness to provide contributions toward the efforts as soon as a non-profit organization could be established.
The next town hall meeting is scheduled at 7 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Eatonville Community Center and is open to the community.