Easton’s Main Mission

By Sandra Zunino

There’s no denying the charm and appeal of historic downtown Easton and with a brand new board of directors, Main Street is only going to get better.

Appointed by Mayor Robert Willey, the board was approved by the Easton Town Council. Prior to this year, the Main Street program partnered with the Avalon Foundation with Al Bond as the economic development director.

“The Avalon does incredible work in this town,” says Board Chairman Ron Mitchell. “They do phenomenal things with the events that they do.” According to Ron, the change was instituted last September as business owners voiced concern that Main Street was getting somewhat confused with the Avalon Foundation.

The Town of Easton Program began in the mid 90s as a Main Street Program. Main Street Revitalization Programs, promoted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, started in the late1970s as a common-sense way to address the variety of issues and problems faced by traditional business districts.

The newly stated mission of Easton’s Main Street is to help ensure an attractive and vibrant downtown for businesses, residents and visitors by capitalizing on Easton’s historic small town charm and values while acknowledging today’s marketplace and lifestyles.

“You have to be designated a historical downtown area in order to be a Main Street,” explains Ron. “The state of Maryland and the national organization that governs the Main Street Program are very definitive and clear as to the objectives – how we organize and how we operate.”

Thus far, Ron says he’s received positive feedback about the new organizational structure commenting that council members voiced approval and enthusiasm after the board’s last business meeting.

Five basic components will comprise the Main Street Program: Organization, Promotion, Design, Economic Restructuring and Green with several committees carrying out these objectives. “Organization simply means getting everyone working toward the same goal,” says Ron. “Promotion means promoting the image and charm of Main Street to shoppers, investors and businesses across the board.”

Economic restructuring focuses on strengthening the economic assets of Main Street while attempting to diversify its base. “Main Street is not a merchant’s organization or a marketing organization – it is broader based in terms of total business instead of selectively merchants…. Merchants are included clearly, but also architects, accountants, attorneys, real estate and other professions are involved,” says Ron.

The Design facet of the program transforms Main Street to top physical condition, says Ron. On the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day, there will be a complete turnout of businesses and residents to clean up downtown. Pruning, trimming, trash pickup and street cleaning will be on the agenda to make the town look new and exciting.

The Green Committee will be looking into a recycling program for the town as well as add flowers and greenery to the townscape for visual appeal.

As part of Easton’s 300th anniversary and as a continued effort to make downtown a destination, several events have been scheduled starting in May. For instance, on the first weekend of every month, Main Street will spotlight antique shopping, art galleries, live music and entertainment in the streets. “There will really be a lot of excitement going on downtown to draw both local residents and tourists to the area,” says Ron.

Upcoming events will be posted on Easton Main Street’s newly designed website www.eastonmd.org, scheduled for launch in April.