Port Angeles downtown merchants hold critical meeting today

PORT ANGELES — A meeting to discuss the direction and future of the Port Angeles Downtown Association will take place today.

The meeting is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. in the Elks Naval Lodge third-floor ballroom.

All downtown merchants, interested members of the public and city officials are invited to attend.

The meeting was organized by Sandy Long, a former vice president of the Port Angeles Downtown Association, and a group of former association board members.

Merchants in the downtown area pay a special tax and are voting members of the association, electing the group’s board of directors.

“Many members of the association want to ask questions about the future and direction of the organization now that the executive director has resigned — from getting a new executive director to possible restructuring of the organization to make it more effective,” Long said.

Today’s program, she said, should include discussion about whether to continue affiliation with the national Main Street program and a possible merger with the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Long has also asked about the association’s budget, the status of the organization’s 501(c)(3) (nonprofit organization) application and its bylaws.

The meeting comes in the wake of the resignation, effective Oct. 27, of Arla Holzschuh, executive director of the downtown association since September 1997.

Main Street official

The downtown association’s board of directors originally voted not to support today’s meeting, then reversed themselves and said they would participate after Susan Kempf, state coordinator for the national Main Street program, said she would come from Olympia to attend the meeting.

“We feel we can better inform the group with Susan Kempf there,” said association president Kevin Thompson, owner of Family Shoe Store, in an interview Tuesday.

The Main Street program helps communities develop strategies to stimulate long-term economic growth and pride in downtown areas.

Port Angeles and Port Townsend are the only two Main Street-certified cities on the North Olympic Peninsula.

The downtown association manages parking lots in the downtown Parking Business Improvement Area and coordinates downtown festivals, including the annual Christmas tree lighting, and other events like sidewalk sales.

It also represents the interests of downtown merchants before the City Council and city Planning Commission.

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