Improved data on historical, current Port Townsend business district to be unveiled

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND –– An online historical account of the buildings and a current listing of businesses in the downtown and uptown business districts will soon be available for entrepreneurs, tourists and history buffs.

The Port Townsend Main Street Program will unveil the initial work of an online database of the buildings and businesses at its merchant breakfast Tuesday morning from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. at the Public House, 1038 Water St.

Heather Dudley Nollette, president of the Main Street board, said the presentation will include the first steps of a program that may eventually allow shoppers to find what they’re looking for from their phone.

“If you’re looking for a belt, the goal is to be able to pull up your phone and see what sources can you go to to find a belt,” Dudley Nollette, project manager for the Hastings Estate Co., said.

Frank DePalma of Totera Web Systems has started development of the inventory, beginning with information about the buildings in each neighborhood, including their original owners and names.

Initially, users of the site will be able hover their mouse over a building and the ownership lineage will pop up on to the screen.

The goal, Dudley Nolette said, is to add to that information to track the ownership of each building up to the present.

That information, she said, could be used to help visitors and history buffs take self-guided walking tours that will teach them about the buildings they pass by.

“It’s a unique piece of our community that we would like to get better and better about inventorying,” Dudley Nolette said.

She said Main Street officials went to a conference in Spokane earlier this year and saw an app the city has developed to allow smart phone users to guide themselves through the histories of neighborhoods.

Eventually, the Port Townsend folks hope to expand that information to include more current information about the businesses in town; who owns them and what they offer.

“We’re hoping it will be a good base for starting conversations and building those connections,” Dudley Nollette said.

In addition, she said, those looking to open new businesses will be able to see what existing stores carry to make a decision if their new business would work.

“If you want to open up a toy store and you see we have three or four toy stores, maybe you change your plan or look to put the store somewhere else in town,” she said.

The web site may also be useful for dealing with emergencies, as neighbors will know better who to contact if buildings or businesses are threatened.

“That really boils down to knowing who your neighbors are and how to get a hold of them,” she said.

Police, fire and county emergency managers are scheduled to be at Tuesday’s breakfast to help guide that aspect.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 01. 2013 7:18PM
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