East End Main Street asks for public input while celebrating accomplishments

By By Erin Beck
Staff writer

While the past year has been successful for the organization, East End Main Street Executive Director Ric Cavender said Wednesday he needs public input for continued success.

EEMS organizers celebrated the last fiscal year’s accomplishments, while hinting at projects that are in the planning stages. About 125 people, including elected officials, organizers and volunteers, turned out for the annual meeting at Clay Center Walker Theater, followed by a reception at Bruno’s.

Cavender asked attendees to visit CharlestonEastEnd.com and take a survey to help shape the organization’s five-year strategic plan.

He said 46 people have responded so far, of whom 53 percent were residents, 31 percent were visitors and 16 percent were business owners. Survey respondents so far have said the positives of the East End include its walkability, family-friendly activities, attractions and entertainment.

They also said they would like to see more events, more public art installations, a district-wide marketing campaign, more lighting and street/sidewalk cleaning, public safety officers, a grocery store, commercial vacancy reduction, and more retail.

Survey respondents are entered into a contest to win all-access passes for HallowEast, including tickets to the four main HallowEast events and entry into the Run Like Hell Zombie 5K Race.

Cavender also told the group about plans to install five solar-powered recycling receptacles and build a district walking tour smartphone application.

The organization plans for three of the recycling receptacles on Washington Street and two on Smith Street, Cavender said.

He said the organization recently contracted with Checkerboard Studios.

“We’re working with them right now to nail down a concept and a theme for these that will be educational not only from a recycling standpoint but more importantly from a district development standpoint,” he said. “We want to tie in the rehabilitation of buildings and how that actually relates to recycling on the lowest level.”

The smartphone app will be GPS-based and include information about historical properties, local businesses and public art.

In talking about the previous year, Cavender emphasized several successful events, including the 5th Annual HallowEast celebration, which brought the largest attendance and fundraising numbers to date.

He said the addition of West Virginia’s first zombie race, the Run Like Hell Zombie 5K Run/Walk, added almost 1,000 people, bringing the total attendance to more than 3,500 people and total revenue to over $25,000.

Other events included the East End Pub Crawl, which drew 1,300 participants and raised $16,000; the East End Yard Sale, which drew 10,000 participants and raised $5,000; and the East End Garden Showcase, which attracted 1,000 tourists and raised $10,000.

The second full season of the East End Bazaar started with a list of close to 100 approved vendors and at least ten full booths every week, according to Cavender.

Cavender also touted the work of the Urban Design Committee, which brought the StreetWorks Public Art Initiative back for a sixth year.

Cavender said all of the ParkView lofts in the old Kyle Furniture Warehouse have been sold.

East End Main Street gave the developer two $20,000 facade grants to make windows in both buildings and also provided design services for the buildings’ exterior.

In other business:

- Treasurer Mary Beth Hoover provided a financial summary of the organization’s most successful year to date.

She said total income was $198,000 and total expenses were $175,000, leaving about $23,000 to be put toward projects this year.

- The board renewed terms for board members Pat Brown, Mary Russell and Keeley Steele until 2017.

Reach Erin Beck at erin.beck@wvgazette.com, 304-348-5163 or follow @erinbeckwv on Twitter.

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