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Morning Sun
  • OUR VIEW: Downtown group learning early lessons

  • The new Pittsburg Downtown Activities Council has a lot going for it. There are 40-50 people working together, in a coordinated effort, to improve the events and activities planned for Pittsburg’s downtown.

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  • The new Pittsburg Downtown Activities Council has a lot going for it. There are 40-50 people working together, in a coordinated effort, to improve the events and activities planned for Pittsburg’s downtown.
    The group is large enough to split into subcommittees and has enough city backing to have city representatives at each of the two meetings so far. There is an energy and excitement to the group, as well as a real sense of ownership for the plans and future of downtown Pittsburg. The DAC could, if guided properly, help the downtown blossom.
    As the group gets its feet underneath it, it needs to be careful to establish an identity and not to make missteps, lest the spirit and vigor shown now dissipate. A few clumsy steps have already taught a few lessons.
    First, there was a notable absence from the first meeting of the DAC.
    The downtown development director, the only person in the city who gets paid to focus on that portion of town as a whole rather than any particular interest, was not invited.
    In fact, although at least 50 showed up to the first meeting, City Manager Daron Hall said he did not think anyone at the Chamber of Commerce had been invited to the first meeting, calling it an “oversight” yet saying he did not set up the first meeting.
    How did no one think to invite the Chamber? Wouldn’t that be one of the first calls, long before student or civic organizations? The Chamber is on board now, but they should have been there from the beginning.
    Second, this isn’t the only downtown committee in town.
    The Downtown Revitalization Committee has been meeting for years, has been involved in the streetscape projects and helps to facilitate the city’s facade grants. So how is the DAC any different?
    “I have no idea,” said Vonnie Corsini, Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation executive director. “I don’t know how they’re different.”
    Luckily, Hall knows.
    “After talking with Blake [Benson, Chamber of Commerce president] and Jay [Byers, Pittsburg Director of Innovation], the easiest way to explain it is that the Downtown Revitalization Committee was focused on infrastructure improvements. There’s a big infrastructure push on that. This new group is more of a way to get more organized, like creating a district or rules or working on a message for downtown. That’s where this is going,” Hall said.
    He might want to tell the Downtown Activities Council, since one of the three new subcommittees they’ve created is for Infrastructure/Transportation.
    This is not to undercut the DAC. There is a need for more coordination of events, group planning and creating an atmosphere of excitement for downtown Pittsburg. They can — and are — filling that need in an incredible way.
    Page 2 of 2 - But that group should also not undercut the efforts of the Downtown Revitalization Committee, which has been meeting for years with some successes to its name.
    Hall explained that the new group is the “next evolution” of the DRC. He said the first step was downtown revitalization while the second step is to bring people downtown. That’s a perfectly understandable goal. There is room for both groups, with one as more of a back-end view and the other more of a front-end approach.
    The DAC has only met twice, so mistakes are to be expected. That’s all we think these two issues are so far. Already some lessons have been learned, and we are sure there are more lessons to come.
    But with a common goal of improving downtown and passionate involvement at its core, the DAC can be a great asset to the city. We look forward to seeing the results.
    — For the Morning Sun

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