Main Street Portsmouth: What Do They Do?
Joseph Pratt of Main Street Portsmouth took some time out of his day to speak to us about their involvement in the community. I will give you the conversation starter I asked and then his detailed response. You will find this information compelling and eye-opening.
Under your Building Improvement Grant section, Main Street vows to award “a minimum of $25,000” each year “to improve the structural integrity, longevity, and overall physical appearance of commercial buildings”, what grants and amounts have been approved in the last 12 months?
535 2nd Street Courtyard
We took a very dangerous space, preserved the historic facade after the building collapsed 10 years ago and it went wild and we developed Portsmouth’s first pocket park. It was about $70,000 and much, much donated time and labor. The city gave the property to us, but it was worth very little and the tax base wasn’t worth keeping private. We took ownership, made it public, and established a park without the city spending one dime. We even paid for legal fees to transfer.
This year’s recipients of the Building Improvement Grant
- Bill and Marcia Spradlin, who received $6,500 for a roof and work valued at $18,675
- Jeremy and Maddie Burnside, for steel reinforcements at $7,000, when the overall project is $50,000 (not counting the complete building renovation cost)
- Trent Millison, for $5,000, for a roof valued at $10,750
- 440 Group, for $6,500 to assist in a $25,800 roofing job
We do 55+ events a year
Everything from the Chocolate Walk to Wine and Dine, Farmers Market to Street Sales, Cut-Throat Karaoke to Tour of Lofts, Farm to Table to Celebrate Portsmouth. We do A LOT in the event category, too. Plus, we plan on bringing 3+ events next year to the calendar that includes a cookie crawl around Winterfest time, a big-budget Halloween dance called Glamour and Gore, and we are looking at turning a hit television show into a local event.
We took an extra $10,000 from the city this year and used it on Christmas lights, but leveraged it to get two other foundations to donate and dozens of businesses. We ended up providing the Tracy Park light show and the pole lights, valued at over $40,000 for just $10,000 invested by the city.
Main Street Portsmouth manages nearly every flower and decorative element downtown
The group developed the latest Alexandria Park design and continues to maintain it, assists the Portsmouth Shade Tree Commission in maintaining the city tree population, assists in odd jobs circled around Tracy Park, and oversees the maintenance of the Roy Roger’s Esplanade. They also maintain public hotspots, such as the Front Street pots along the floodwall, the City Building, and flower pots around the County Courthouse. Their work also includes the planting and maintenance of 64 hanging baskets; 63 flower pots and urns in public spaces, another 47 floral pots in front of local businesses; tree wells; parks, and hotspots. There are seasonal holiday displays on the Esplanade, Tracy Park, and in front of the City Building.
All of this works towards a beautiful and inviting downtown Portsmouth and made possible due to donors and volunteers.
We also just received $60,000 to build a new public gym on the riverfront next year. The city will assist us in installation, but it, also, will cost taxpayers nothing, since we manage the project and received a grant to fund it from the Scioto Foundation. After that, we are looking at developing a public classroom on the riverfront for people to meet, churches to have bible study, schools to take children, counseling centers, and clinics to meet and have therapy sessions, etc.
Cost does not equal value
We get a set amount from the city, and we then utilize that budget to leverage more funding. We accomplish work with volunteer labor, to provide something of far greater value than the cost.