Port Angeles downtown group looks at its future

PORT ANGELES — After a three-hour membership meeting punctuated by loud discussions and finger-pointing, the president of the Port Angeles Downtown Association was cautiously optimistic.

“Our goal was to help members better understand what is happening,” said Kevin Thompson, owner of Family Shoe Store.

The Thursday night meeting at the Elks Naval Lodge, which was attended by about 100 members, was organized by Sandy Long, a former vice-president of the association, and former board members.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the “future and direction” of the 210-member business organization in the wake of Executive Director Arla Holzschuh’s resignation, which takes effect Oct. 27.

This includes possible restructuring that could sever the association’s relationship with the national Main Street downtown revitalization program or lead to a merger with the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“A lot of good ideas came out of that meeting, and we’re going to look into those ideas to get more information,” said Thompson.

Long seemed to share Thompson’s outlook regarding the laborious session.

“I’m so pleased that so many people came out to this meeting,” Long said.

“I want to keep an open dialogue on the future of the downtown.”

Susan Kempf, the state’s Main Street Program coordinator, addressed the group.

When Kempf asked if people wanted another meeting, audience members said they did, although no future date or format was set.

Thompson described the meeting as “an eye-opener” and said there’s more to be addressed.

“I felt pretty good after it regardless. I hope everyone else did,” he said.

Thompson reminded the audience that the PADA board of directors meets at 6:15 p.m. Mondays at the group’s office on Laurel Street.

He also said the next “Morning Mingle” is set for 8 a.m. Wednesday in the second-floor banquet room of Landing’s Restaurant and Dockside Lounge in The Landing mall, 115 E. Railroad Ave.

Suggestions included posting information on the group’s Web site and having an informational presentation on the Main Street program, followed by a survey of the members regarding whether to remain affiliated with it.

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