Drawing power from Marietta Main Street West’s positivity
“It’s Placemaking, not Place made. It’s a process. You are never finished.” This quote definitely underscores the philosophy of Marietta Main Street which brings people together to preserve, enhance, and enjoy downtown Marietta, Ohio. During these turbulent times fraught with COVID-19 and riots, it is important to remember the positive aspects of a vibrant downtown that invites ALL community members to invest and promote community pride.
Although Marietta Main Street has been around since 2006, Main Street West (MSW) started in the summer of 2018 and focuses on the neighborhood revitalization in Harmar. It began as a partnership between the City of Marietta, Marietta Main Street, and West side residents. Now Main Street West is proud of its growth and additional community stakeholders such as the Marietta Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Marietta-Belpre Health Department, Washington County Relay for Life, GoPacks, Marietta College, Washington County Behavioral Health Board, and many more.
Showcasing what makes our community unique so that it may grow and thrive for generations to come is the goal and by bringing together residents, business owners, and community leaders on Marietta’s West side, a grassroots movement has grown to overcome some of the challenges faced by the neighborhood. Below are some of the exciting accomplishments:
Clean Up Days: MSW brings area volunteers into Harmar to sweep the streets, trim the bushes, pull weeds, and pick up trash.
MOV Rebound for Kids: This summer program connects officers from the Marietta Police Department and Washington County Sheriff’s Office with kids in Harmar. Last summer MOV Rebound met nightly at Flanders Field, but this program is on hold right now due to COVID-19.
Flanders Field: MSW is actively working to create a safe, fun public park for families to enjoy year-round. Updates to playground equipment, mulching, basketball court upgrades and more are included in this effort.
Neighborhood Events: MSW hosts a Trunk of Treat in the Train Yard, pop-up events during First Fridays, fundraisers and other special events throughout the year, all designed to bring the community together.
Public Art & Beautification: Harmar is home to a variety of talented artists that MSW wants to promote through public art displays around the district. In 2019, MSW expanded downtown beautification efforts to include more hanging flower baskets and holiday decor.
Blight Reduction & Residential Support: MSW leaders and supporters actively work to share resources with residents seeking to care for and maintain their homes. Additionally, through partnership with the City of Marietta, MSW addresses the issue of blight and its negative impact on the neighborhood.
Monthly Community Meetings: The last Sunday of every month, MSW hosts Neighborhood Meetings to bring Harmar together and share updates, resources and more to continue the grassroots approach of strengthening Harmar. During these meetings, community members can provide input and feedback to help drive future projects.
During Heritage Ohio’s Annual State Conference in October 2019, Marietta Main Street was awarded the Best Main Street Committee Project Award for Main Street West. According to Jackson Patterson, the President of MSW: “There is a need for positive things in negative spaces. If there are areas in the city that have negative labels or activities, I seek to overcome the negatives with positives. I want people in Harmar and Marietta to take an active role in making our neighborhood a safe, fun and welcoming community.”
Geoff Schenkel, City Council member, Harmar resident and one of the founders of MSW, believes that “within MSW there is magic, a secret formula for empowering the community to become engaged citizens, sharing their voices and taking action.” He shares that MSW has “worked hard to build trust and rapport and inform neighborhood residents about government process and the essential value of knowing individual and community rights in order to get things done to feel proud of your community.”
For more information on Marietta Main Street and Main Street West, please visit the website mariettamainstreet.org or contact Cristie Thomas, Interim Executive Director, at email@example.com
Hilles Hughes is the deputy director for the Washington County Behavioral Health Board.