“Our town is beautiful, we work hard to keep it beautiful, and a lot of that is because of the people in this room,” said Randy Nolan to the crowd during Main Street West’s Community Dinner and Meeting.

Nolan was one of nearly one hundred Marietta residents who attended the meeting Sunday evening to celebrate the many accomplishments of Main Street West’s first year. Main Street West launched as a new initiative through Marietta Main Street in 2018 to focus solely on the revitalization of Harmar. Led by Jackson Patterson and Fourth Ward City Councilman Geoff Schenkel, both members of the Marietta Main Street Board of Directors, Main Street West successfully accomplished several of its initial goals with the help of neighborhood volunteers.

Fourth Ward City Councilman Geoff Schenkel addressing the crowd.

The event, held at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Harmar Village, was open and free for all to attend, thanks in part to generous donations from The Busy Bee, Jeremiah’s Coffee House, and the Knights of Columbus Hall. Guests were invited to enjoy a meal together, celebrate the progress made, and discuss future plans for Marietta’s West Side.

Main Street West’s grassroots approach embodies the full mission of Marietta Main Street and applies it to the Harmar community.

Interim Executive Director Cristie Thomas kicked off the evening’s program by reiterating Main Street West’s unique position within the Marietta Main Street organization. “Main Street West is a microcosm of our mission,” she said. “While many of our programs or initiatives meet one part of our mission, Main Street West’s grassroots approach embodies the full mission of Marietta Main Street and applies it to the Harmar community.”

Volunteers from Marietta College served up a delicious pancake dinner, generously donated by The Busy Bee.

Schenkel, Patterson, and Thomas shared updates from the past year and recognized individuals who had gone above and beyond to make a difference in the Harmar Community. Special recognition was given to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Marietta City Police Department, Myra Douglas of the Gilman United Methodist Church, Barb Close of Huntington Bank, Tom Fenton, Georganna Wade, and Steve Partin for their contributions, commitment, and dedication to the mission of Main Street West.

“As a neighborhood, we defy stereotypes,” said Schenkel. “What brings us together is our impulse to help – that’s the common ground that we share. We may be an unlikely group but when we work together, our differences melt away and we’re able to make a real difference.”

From left to right: Executive Director Cristie Thomas, Steve Partin and his daughter, Jackson Patterson, Georganna Wade, City Councilman Geoff Schenkel, and Tom Fenton. Photo by Alysha Patterson

In its first year, Main Street West focused its efforts on family programming, neighborhood beautification, and volunteer development. Projects included improvements at Flanders Field, the MOV Rebound for Kids program, the expansion of the flower baskets throughout Harmar Village, and clean up days throughout the community. The group also partnered with a number of organizations, from the Washington County Behavioral Health Board and the City of Marietta to Building Bridges to Careers, on a variety of initiatives.

Everyone is starting to feel an increased sense of safety.

“The relationships with the Marietta City Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office have grown so much with MOV Rebound,” said Patterson. “I see the uniforms patrolling, the relationships with the kids on the west side growing, and everyone is starting to feel an increased sense of safety.”

Geoff Schenkel hands a certificate to Steve Partin, who has been an active volunteer with Main Street West.

The evening ended with an open discussion of community needs and future goals for Main Street West. Residents shared feedback on the potential updates to bus signage throughout the West Side, a desire to revive Harmar Beach, and thanked Main Street West volunteers for their efforts to clean up the community.

“I’m looking forward to continued growth with our Main Street West program and increased opportunities for the community-at-large to experience, enjoy, and support Harmar,” said Thomas. “We’re particularly excited to feature neighborhood events each First Friday in the train yard next to The Busy Bee and to partner with various local organizations, including the Washington County Public Library, on installing and managing the Harmar Tool Library.”

Attendees were asked to share their thoughts and feedback on placemats provided by Main Street West.

Tomorrow evening, Main Street West will be recognized as the 2019 “Best Main Street Committee Project or Event” by Heritage Ohio at the 2019 Heritage Ohio Annual Preservation and Revitalization Conference in Newark, Ohio. This award is presented to a Main Street program or initiative in Ohio that displays excellence, fulfills an unmet need in the community, and positively impacts the community through utilizing the Main Street approach.

Main Street West will be hosting their next community meeting on Sunday, October 27th at 6:00 p.m. at the Gilman United Methodist Church. An open invitation stands for all interested in learning more about the strides being made on the West Side.