It appears that this is a propitious time to publish a status report one year after the Main Street Batesville (MSB) board was reorganized.
For those that do not have sufficient time presently to read this in entirety, here is a highlight that expresses the essence of the report. The board was reorganized in late September 2013 with the objective of addressing any previous shortcomings that the organization may have had in order to continue its mission of preserving the downtown area. The board was increased from seven (7) to eleven (11) elected members to provide more persons to carry out this mission of MSB. Successful fund raisers included the Winter Gala, the Independence County Fair lemonade stand, a Tribute to the Beatles concert, and an Oktoberfest event. Non successes were the Water Carnival’s lemonade stand, fund raising through solicitations of the general public, obtaining sponsors for all of the MSB events and an attempt to sponsor a “modern-home” tour. The board pledged to make all of their decisions transparent to ensure that public confidence could be created and maintained. Thus far that objective has been successful and it will continue to be followed.
The financial status as of this date shows MSB to be stable but very much in need of improvement. A $30K line-of-credit was obtained (of that amount, $10K was actually requested and granted) from a local bank to proceed with operations on a steady basis and that obligation is expected to be paid off by the end of 2014. It is the intention of the board to use this credit line only in case of extreme emergency.
The major visible improvements to the downtown area were the addition of nineteen (19) modified (from the existing flower-hanging poles) ambiance street lanterns with solar powered LED lights, repairs to a section of the deteriorating sidewalks, the addition of many new signs for new and old businesses and the early stages of changing the streetscape.
This latter improvement (streetscape) was brought about by the establishment of The Streetscape Advisory Panel consisting of representatives from nineteen (19) different interested entities (shareholders) that made recommendations to the Batesville City Council that were eventually approved. This Panel used the recommendations of a consultant, Mr. Dan Burden. Three blocks had a trial redesign implemented and in October 2014 the first block will begin to take on the appearance of a permanent change. This activity was probably the most important (read visible) change to the downtown’s appearance and will continue to dominate the Main Street changes for at least two more years.
Extensive planning for 2015 is expected to produce a smoother running organization and a stabilization of its financial status with the continued emphasis on fund raising to cover the cost of normal operations. Continued work on the redesigned streetscape will slowly unfold a revamped Main Street that should provide the incentive for shoppers to visit and new businesses to be brought forward; thus the beginning of the downtown’s revitalization.
Board Composition and Activity: Upon reorganization, the board elected to emphasize the importance that this is a “working board” and that all members were to both financially support the mission and to contribute their time/talent to begin the successful downtown revitalization. Board composition was increased to eleven (11) elected members and the five (5) ex-officio members were granted voting privileges. All five (5) ex-officio positions were filled. The board members all readily agreed that the downtown was in a definite decline when at least fifteen (15) buildings did not have tenants ((there are approximately fifty six (56) usable commercial buildings on Main Street going from Fifth to State)). Additionally, the bank account in late September 2013 had less than $1K to restart operations. The board obviously had its work laid out for it at the outset.
It was also agreed that the committees, under the guidance of each chairman, would present their plans to the board and ask for their approval. In other words, the work to flesh out the event would be done by the committee in separate sessions; thus reducing the amount of time that would be consumed at a board meeting if discussion was used to agree on a concept instead of a plan. That has worked well. The Executive Director would be the facilitator used by the committee to prepare and to conduct the event. The Director was to be involved in every committee to ensure that there were no conflicts with either event dates or the utilization of valuable member effort. Some events could (and were) be under the Director’s planning and control. This sharing of responsibilities has also worked well and will continue to improve.
Board member attendance has been very good and a quorum was available for every monthly meeting. Discussions remained crisp and decisions arrived at with very little lost time (most meetings covered the topics with conclusions reached within one hour which had been set as a reasonable period of time for the conduct of business). The board has functioned well in a cooperative and conciliatory manner and is fully expected to continue to do so. One very important note; almost everyone has a “day job” but is willing to expend the extra effort to give of their precious time/talent for the success of MSB.
Planning: Each committee chairman presented completed work plans in time for the calendar year 2014 and the board as a whole created a Master Plan that addressed overarching issues that the board needed to consider in order to move forward in a planned manner. This Master Plan was promised at the first of several meetings open to the public when the board was seeking general consensus on revitalizing downtown. A condensed calendar of events was set for the remainder of 2013 and a full one for 2014 was also established. The most pressing need upon reorganization was to obtain funds quickly for the organization to operate; the planning effort quickly solved that as discussed in the financial section of this report.
Presently there clearly are fifteen (15) businesses that are “destination” only and another seventeen (17) that are non-destination. A destination business has customers going to that building for a specific purpose such as shoe repair and the non-destination business encourages persons to “browse” looking at numerous items of merchandise. Naturally, if someone goes into a destination business and has time to spare, he/she may wander to other nearby businesses. The recruitment of non-destination businesses seems to be called for to increase the likelihood that citizens and tourists alike will be enticed to shop downtown. A satisfactory mix of both is needed for a successful downtown array of shopping desires. This will take time with very careful planning and execution.
In conclusion, this first year since reorganization has had its ups and downs but overall was a satisfactory beginning to the revitalization of downtown and the MSB board met the various challenges with constructive planning, perseverance and execution. The majority of the citizenry is supporting what is being attempted and knows that if nothing is done, then the future of downtown is most uncertain with the decline continuing. Much remains to be done before a turnaround of this fact is noted, but the board is committed to make that happen with its tagline — “We Shall Prevail”.
The Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce is requesting volunteers for the 2nd Annual Afterglow 5k, the nighttime glow run that takes place immediately following the fireworks at the annual White River Water Carnival. Volunteer needs include course security, merchandise preparation, and race timing assistance.
“With the Water Carnival just around the corner, volunteer staffing has become very important. We need to fulfill this need as soon as possible to ensure the second Afterglow is even more successful than the first. The entire Water Carnival is directed by volunteer staffing, and there is so much to do before the event, the day of the event, and the next couple of days after. It is necessary to have as many volunteers as possible,” said BACC Membership Director Mandi Curtwright.
If you would like to volunteer, please contact Mandi Curtwright at (870) 793-2378 or email@example.com.
The 71st Annual White River Water Carnival will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 13, 2014 at Riverside Park in Batesville. Please be aware that there will be road closures during the race from 9:15 p.m. until 10:15 p.m. throughout the neighborhood surrounding Riverside Park and Batesville Junior High and Batesville High School. To view a course map, please visit www.afterglowrace.com. The BACC also encourages residents along the race course to decorate their yards and themselves in Afterglow attire and cheer on the runners.
September 3 Newport Bingo 11 am
September 8 Movie Day 2 pm
September 11 Lunch N Learn Noon
September 12 Bingo Bald Knob Noon
September 15 Tuckerman Bingo Noon
September 16-24 Boston Trip
September 19 Katie’s Wire & Rings Fundraiser 5:00 p.m. Jacksonport State Park