By Pam Fitzpatrick
If I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s this: if you want to be heard, you have to be vocal, and persistently so. It’s useless to sit back and feel left out, angry, disenfranchised or even worse – disengaged. You have to communicate.
But even the most vocal among us need direction; we need a way to connect — we need to know who to ask for that direction. When lost, we used to pull into a gas station and hope for the best – now we use navigation systems or Google maps. Times change, contacts change, but the need to reach our destination never changes. Here in Old Town, our businesses are dependent on information sharing – both with each other and with our guests. Social media is one way to communicate, but it’s not the only way. Getting stuck on one form of communication and neglecting others runs the risk of weakening both our individual and our collective voices. And that’s why I choose to write….
Information sharing and business outreach is not an easy task. We have over 240 businesses in our Business Improvement District, and each one of them communicate (or not) in different ways. One-on-one visits are important, but that’s information collection done in a vacuum – it’s not sharing. Clearly we can do a better job at making everyone feel included, asking for opinions, watching out for those who are looking for direction (both shop owners and customers), and we’re looking to MOTAB, our Advisory Board to help us with direction.
To that end I was happy to see the City organize a Special Study Session for the Monrovia Old Town Advisory Board this past Monday, Jan. 30. Unfortunately, no one but the City and the Board knew about the meeting, so no merchants attended. We can do better than this, and I do believe we will, but in the meantime here are a few highlights that came out of the meeting: Concerns were expressed about trash in the parking lots, skateboarding on the sidewalks, limited parking, and feelings that not all merchants are being heard. Positive comments were expressed about historical programs and events like the annual Car Show, the Concerts in the Park, the Halloween Trick or Treat, the Holiday Parade, Carolers, Santa Breakfasts and New Year’s Eve on Myrtle; new events are in the works which include additional Carriage Rides, a Wine Walk (really exciting!), and maybe some Hay Rides in November. Next I’m hoping for an Old Town Visioning Meeting where all of the merchants will be invited (with advance notice) and maybe the public as well. We used to have these visioning meetings for years when the Redevelopment Agency and its associated funding still existed, and they were very successful. There’s nothing like having everyone together – talking AND listening!
Moving on to some good news on the 316 S. Myrtle site: workers have been cleaning up the junk and debris inside the site. That’s a start – now will somebody please send us a developer to buy this building and make it great again? No news yet on what’s happening with the now closed Press Café (just outside of Old Town), and the Jake’s expansion is still on, but no activity there yet. If anybody is looking for a small space, check out the old Resistor Records site in the 500 block of South Myrtle, west side. I know the building owner, and anyone would be fortunate to have him as a landlord. And, the crosswalk flag stations should be tested in the 500 block of South Myrtle soon. We’ll give them a try for about 90 days and see if pedestrians will use them, and if, when they are used, they improve crosswalk safety. Please, drivers and pedestrians both – watch out for each other!