Mari Mullen, left, director of the Port Townsend Main Street Program, stands with Coldwell Broker employees Forrest Aldrich, the designated broker, and Belinda Button, the office manager, in the new seating area on Taylor Street in downtown Port Townsend. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Mari Mullen, left, director of the Port Townsend Main Street Program, stands with Coldwell Broker employees Forrest Aldrich, the designated broker, and Belinda Button, the office manager, in the new seating area on Taylor Street in downtown Port Townsend. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend Main Street Program gets national accreditation amid its 30th year in operation

The organization’s most recent work is the tables with chairs on Taylor Street in downtown Port Townsend.

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend Main Street Program received its national accreditation for 2016, during its 30th year of existence.

The organization’s most recent project was the placement of two tables with chairs on Taylor Street in downtown Port Townsend.

However, it also hosts a variety of events each year and works behind the scenes — watering hanging flower baskets and cleaning public bathrooms — to make the city as enjoyable as possible for both residents and visitors, said Mari Mullen, executive director.

While the Main Street Program helped raise the funds for the new Taylor Street seating area — located in front of the Coldwell Banker office — the hope is that other businesses will take the initiative and help to purchase more tables and chairs to make the city a little more pedestrian friendly, Mullen said.

“It’s great for families who don’t want to take their children into restaurants or someone with a dog,” she said.

Historic districts

The organization does more than provide visitors some extra seats, she pointed out.

“We do a lot of events and activities that benefit the historic districts,” Mullen said. “Our mission is the prosperity of our historical districts — uptown and downtown — while maintaining our small town way of life.”

The Main Street Program is a movement on the city, state and national level that focuses on historic preservation and community revitalization. Hundreds of the programs are in cities across the United States, 34 in Washington state.

The Port Townsend program was one of the first five pilot programs in the state.

According to Mullen, the program must apply for accreditation every year to remain a part of the state and national branches of the Main Street.

“We have to show that we’re a fully functioning program with an adequate budget and we have to show the scope of what we’ve accomplished each year,” Mullen said.

“I never take it for granted. You have to have all cylinders firing every year.”

The program also documents the hours of their volunteers because, according to Mullen, the organization is entirely dependant on residents volunteering their time to better their community.

“We’re a highly volunteer-driven organization,” Mullen said. “We have a small staff but all the work is pretty much on the volunteers.”

The nonprofit is responsible for such events as the summertime free Concerts on the Dock — which ended for the season on Thursday — the community tree-lighting and Santa visit and the Uptown Street Fair, in addition to maintaining such public spaces as the Cotton Building bathrooms and Adams Street Park.

Residents can look forward to the Main Street Program’s Girls’ Night Out on Oct. 6 and the Downtown Trick or Treat on Oct. 31.

All of this is an indirect way to promote local businesses and the local community. The organization also provides direct assistance in the form of loans.

Local businesses can apply for the Light at the End of the Tunnel (LENT) micro-loans fund, which helps businesses recover from emergencies such as floods or fires.

There is also the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) low interest revolving loan program through Main Street.

The HUD loans are to help local businesses update, restore and preserve historic buildings.

The deadline for both those loans are in October, the 15th for the LENT loan and the 28th for the HUD loan.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5550, or at [email protected].

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