PORTSMOUTH — The nonprofit organization Main Street Portsmouth has continued its’ efforts during the summer months in the beautification of downtown Portsmouth.
Main Street, founded in 2007 and led by executive director Joseph Pratt, has dedicated thousands of volunteer hours each year, many of which are dedicated to fulfilling their mission statement — providing services, incentives and collaborative opportunities to promote a healthy economic downtown while preserving our historic integrity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed restrictions on many large-group events that Main Street had planned for this year, however, it has not stopped the completion of many day-to-day projects and improvements of the downtown area of Portsmouth.
“We’ve been unable to host many larger cleanups, outside of partnering with LifePoint’s Serve Day,” Pratt said. “Our smaller groups have stepped it up and have been working even harder to accomplish all the cleaning, planting and maintaining. Nothing we do would be possible if not for our many, many volunteers.”
Main Street’s regular beautification efforts of the downtown area this year include mulching tree wells, cleaning downtown parking lots, planting public parking lot flower beds, the Roy Rogers Esplanade upkeep and planting, Alexandria Park upkeep and planting, the City Building upkeep and planting, Spock Memorial Dog Park flower bed maintenance, county flower pots, business flower pots, downtown hanging baskets, Front Street flower pots and urns, and more. This day-to-day maintenance does not include the additional projects Main Street has undertaken in 2020.
In July, the Portsmouth Area Chamber of Commerce, Friends of Portsmouth, and Main Street Portsmouth all partnered to host an event in Alexandria Point Park, choosing to dedicate their extra time and resources there. Some of the action undertook in Alexandria Point Park’s beautification included a brand-new steel sign, cleaning park benches, tables and structures and tree-trimming of all the trees, including ones hanging over the road of Scioto Street. This tree-trimming was done with cooperation from the City of Portsmouth.
“In a way, Main Street’s roots lie in Alexandria Park, because it was the first major project we oversaw, thanks to Sue Burke and Ellen Vetter. This park is a shining jewel of Portsmouth and we see the value it has to locals and tourists alike. We are proud of our major investment in the park and look forward to many more years of sweat to improve and maintain it.”
Main Street has also been working with the same company that fabricated the new steel sign for Alexandria Point Park, Falcon Fabrication, to accomplish a few additional projects.
FF has been busy ordering the materials for new ornamental design inserts for flower pots at the Portsmouth City Government Building, ordered a new, large sign to be displayed at Tracy Park, and also have began working on the steel needed for their new pocket park at 535 Second Street — a project hoping to be completed in the coming weeks.
Simply being called 535 Second Street due to its address, the new pocket park Main Street is overseeing will be a new courtyard park in the heart of historic Boneyfiddle. The process of building this park began two years ago when Main Street took ownership of the property and started clearing the area of wildlife while preserving the standing façade of a formerly collapsed building.
FF will install the decorative windows and doors before getting back to the garage to finish the 20-foot ornate gate that will line the rear of the property. Main Street has tasked local contractors Heath Hall to stamp the concrete at the site and Marc Nolan Electric to wire the lighting so they can later finish installing flower beds, a water fountain, furniture and more.
“535 Second Street has been my baby for the past two years and a space I’ve admired since I was a young teenagerm,” Pratt said. “It took a lot of time securing everything in phase one, which was the important groundwork needed to make the space usable and safe. We had dozens of workers from the Tri-State Building Trades Unions on-site many days removing unsafe elements and installing steel to secure the historic façade. Finally, we are wrapping up phase two, which will see the space usable with all of its basic beautiful elements ready to go. We are exploring future phases and small touches to improve the space and make it a truly unique getaway the entire community is proud of.”
Over recent years, Main Street has also been updating benches and trash receptacles in small sections of the downtown area of Portsmouth. Thanks to a $40,000 proposal approved by the Scioto Foundation, a longtime contributor to Main Street as well as other private individuals and businesses, MS is looking at fully completing the replacement of the waste units and benches by next spring.
“We have several other major projects we are eyeing, once phase two of 535 Second Street is completed,” Pratt said. “We know we want to look at the riverfront, and have recently applied for a grant in hopes of it becoming reality. We are playing with the concept of a recreational area in Boneyfiddle. We are also looking at updates and maintenance items at the Esplanade and a few other key parts of downtown. In the meantime, outside of our many events and programs, our beautification team will continue to maintain the beautiful area of downtown that this community has become accustomed to.”
In addition to fulfilling by their mission statement through the beautification of the downtown area, Main Street Portsmouth is a recipient of the annual Building Improvement Grant Program with the City of Portsmouth, which adds a $25,000 investment to a fund for area downtown businesses to develop their historic properties with; invest over $30,000 a year in beautification efforts, not including new parks and major investments unique to that year; and host nearly 60 events a year, such as the farmers market, the Chocolate Walk, the Wine and Dine, Tour of Lofts, Cut-Throat Karaoke and more.
To reach Main Street Portsmouth, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 740.464.0203.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved