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Coke to co-ordinate Downtown Revitalization Project

Council on Tuesday is expected to sign an agreement for the $102,500 grant in funding for the County’s Downtown Revitalization Project announced in December.

Tom Coke

Tom Coke

Tom Coke, the County’s new Downtown Revitalization Coordinator, prepared the report for council. The grant provides half of the total project expenses and helps pays his wages.

Coke will lead the project, which  is expected to identify opportunities for business and residential growth throughout the County’s downtown centres. With five key ratepayer and business associations issues of “wayfinding”, signage, facade improvement, beautification, streetscaping, business retention and expansion, marketing and promotion will be on the table. It began in late 2014 and is to continue to Dec. 2016.

“I am very pleased to be joining the Community Development team at The County and am looking forward to collaborating with all groups involved in this project,” said Coke. “Each downtown is unique and the epicentre of the surrounding community. I am eager to work with all stakeholders to ensure this is reflected in their revitalization plans.”

Coke will act as liaison between community groups, committees, and associations from the five key commercial areas – Picton, Bloomfield, Wellington, Consecon and Rossmore. Together with these groups, Coke will support the creation of a revitalization plan for each of the downtown centres, plus a Downtown Revitalization Strategy for the County.

Coke was office manager of the Napanee Business Improvement Area (BIA), and helped lead Downtown Napanee’s transformation.

“We are very fortunate to have Tom join our team, bringing his experience working with local business organizations and ratepayers associations” said Neil Carbone, Director of Community Development. “His passion for the revitalization of rural commercial areas is evident, and will prove to be an asset to this project.”

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  1. Whoa everyone! Talking like Picton and the rest of the County is immune from the woos of the world and the rest of Canada is nonsense. We aren’t that special and yes whining about the good ole days before the rich(?!) arrived and all these tourists who fuel lots of county businesses by the way, is just sour grapes! There are very few manufacturing jobs ANYWHERE, our kids are finding it hard to get jobs ANYWHERE, even if they are highly educated. Many university grads are working in the service industry. Nothing stays the same people, everything changes and evolves. There is nothing to stop anyone from setting up a store with reasonably priced clothes (Levi’s) in Picton or anywhere else. Would the locals support it? I hope so. It is supply and demand and that goes for everything. I wish Mr Coke well in revitalizing our county towns and encouraging people to visit and settle here.

  2. Marnie says:

    Take a drive through the county Jack and county the McMansions. There are a disproportionate number of rich people living in the county these days and a lot of poor ones fighting to stay afloat. If you really were making those decisions on which bills to pay everyday I don’t think you would be so quick to accuse others of sour grapes and whining.

  3. MI says:

    Getting back to REVITALIZATION, did the LCBO contact Mr Coke, anyone on council, or the County about setting up the temporary liquor store at the old Macs store, beside Tim Hortons? I cannot even imagine the congestion,parking problems, and every traffic nightmare possible if this is to happen. The impact on every business on the Main St. will be dramatic. Picton will be officially a “No Drive Zone” for anybody that needs to get anywhere or buy anything. The LCBO can be completely incompetent and uncaring due to the fact it is a monopoly. Who is safe-guarding our town from the stupidity of this organization???

  4. Jack Dall says:

    @Marnie I make those decisions everyday.
    You have just made a lot of assumptions on who I am and my personal financial position.
    None of them are even close to the truth.
    Perceptions are dangerous, but perhaps it does explain why you have some of your opinions.

  5. Marnie says:

    Is it easier to cry sour grapes than to accept the truth Jack? We have always had the rich, the middle class and the poor but as someone pointed out earlier the middle class is rapidly disappearing. Maybe you would “whine” to if you were struggling to figure out how to pay the dentist’s bill or your hydro bill and trying to decide if you should fix the car or make your first tax payment. Obviously you are not required to make such decisions or you would not be so dismissive of those who do. Tourism is not our salvation. Watch those supermarket prices climb when those summer visitors come to town. Of course you would not be likely to notice because only whiners see these things.

  6. Jack Dall says:

    Sour grapes . Rich and poor? Can anyone show me the dynamics which allow them to come to these conclusions.? What industry do we have that will make things any better? Farming? Cement?. I don,t think so. If there is a problem ,and I don,t think so. Sticking your head in the sand and whining isn’t,t going to fix it. Isolationism does not work and never will.

  7. Hildagard says:

    Unfortunately the County is now like Toronto–only two socio-economic classes–the rich and the poor with no middle class anymore!! This is a mess and it is a sad state of affairs!! If the rich think the poor are going to be their servants and lawn cutters, they may be sadly mistaken!! More and more of the former middle class will give up and resort to welfare. Who can blame them! There are only so much taxes and utilities that can be paid with minimum wage jobs and part-time jobs that seem to be the norm today.

  8. Paul says:

    I think your right Marnie and there is no turning back now, problem is it is not sustainable. The cost of living in Prince Edward County will be unattainable for even the middle class.

  9. Marnie says:

    Well said Hildagard. We’ve always had tourism and it never caused any problems until the tail started wagging the dog. They all want to play in our sandbox and they take over the town for the entire season. We’re a destination now and there is no going back.

  10. Hildagard says:

    If the tourist are not happy with the way the dowtown looks, they can go elsewhere!! I’m so tired of catering to the tourist and the newbies to the County! I hope they leave the Xmas decorations up all year round!! It is time for more local residents to speak up and say–enough is enough!! Go to the Muskokas if that is what you like–I’ll mapquest you the directions from the County if you like!! The County was a much nicer place 20 years ago!!

  11. Marnie says:

    The county has become a playground for the well-to-do. The locals are just the chumps who keep it open for the rest of the year. It’s not the locals who attend those pricey events at the Regent or sip wine at those expensive restaurants. They don’t buy the fancy duds at the high end clothing stores either. If things keep going the way they are Picton’s thrift stores will be where most of the year-round residents shop. They’ll be the folks eating at the chip truck or the local greasy spoons and their homes will be those with For Sale signs on the lawn. It was a sad day for us when we were discovered as Ontario’s best kept secret.

  12. Paul says:

    I agree Susan gentrification is well underway here in The County..

  13. Susan says:

    Generational County residents are systematically being priced right out of their historical roots. There comes a point when you have to move to survive. We are on the verge of being conquered by the well to do, or beaten up by a local government gone mad!

  14. Emily says:

    I think the real question is has tourism benefited the vast majority of County residents? I do not believe so. Tourists with $$ take over the County and low income to middle income residents strive 12 months a year to survive. Council seems to think if Main St is packed from the Beer store to the Liquor store things have to be good. It may very well be a recipe for financial disaster. When water bills equal taxes and there is no food on the table it is a sad situation. Makes one feel like they are supporting a playground for the fortunate rather than looking after their basic needs!

  15. Gary says:

    Yes let’s hire and beautify Picton for the flood of tourists to stress our infrastructure. New rate water bills are out and we have reached a milestone as many residents now pay as much for water as property tax. Many low income folks may have to choose between water or food.

  16. lou says:

    what I don’t understand is this……
    Most/many tourists are the camper Sandbanks people
    So…why the FINE dining expensive places?

    Campers dont usually want to go off to the Fine dining.
    I think they swing thru Picton, and maybe want a quick casual bite to eat.
    Anyone thinking of a food business. maybe better off with casual
    AND local could afford that too.

    I guess there is a place for fine dining….with some locals
    and tourists that come in for the Wineries I guess
    so maybe a spot for it
    but forgetting other people

    also we just go up to Belleville (unless giant tiger has it)
    and get our needed things
    guess its the small town thing

  17. Nutcase says:

    I have to agree with what Marnie has said. 🙂

  18. Paul says:

    Id like to think the reason why tourists came here back in the day was for that old school laid back feel the beach and camp grounds played a big part with their out houses and such a step back in time to a slower pace and GREAT PEOPLE.. Yes the Great People are still here but they avoid downtown Picton because of the rat race its become. Lets not go overboard making everything shiny and streamlined lets make The County the Quaint little place it used to be…

  19. Marnie says:

    Not chips on the shoulder just the plain truth Marie. Picton has changed a lot and in many ways not for the better. How can a town be self-sustaining when those who live there year-round cannot buy many basic items? We need more stores that sell medium-priced everyday goods not trendy boutiques where the price of one sweater could feed a person for a week. Those frumpy Christmas decorations are the least of it. Try parking on the Market Square or Sobey’s plaza It’s easier to drive to the mall.

  20. Marie says:

    Jeesh…You could fill a lot of pot holes with the chips on some people’s shoulders here…

    My point, or my two cents here, is that there is a lot of low handing fruit when it comes to downtown revitalization.

    How long will it take Tom Coke, other municipal employees or a Picton councilor to remove the Christmas décor in front of the Library?

  21. Marnie says:

    They come for the beach and stay for the wine, and fine dining in the restaurants most of us cannot afford.

  22. Mark says:

    Yes it looks real bad! It is beyond me why the tourists come here. Unless you like being jammed packed into the Sandbanks!

  23. Mary J. says:

    The Town of Picton,On looks bad, every worn out, terrible main st., neglected appearance of ALL areas of the town, vacant properties, poor infrastructure maintenance, nothing that would make a person say “beautiful small
    Town” Too bad, it could be made better!!!

  24. Emily says:

    Tourism is a two edged sword. Helps a few but not the vast majority. One needs look no farther than our roads. Once the pride of the County and the province prior to the Harris downloads, amalgamations and the McGuinty spending spree. The County now will never ever be able to maintain the roads to what we once new.

  25. Marnie says:

    Careful Susan, you just gored a sacred cow. There are those who believe we are driven primarily by tourism. We toss the keys to the town over to the summer people on the 24th of May, then lie low until Thanksgiving. You’re right – it’s sad that Main Street is beginning to look a lot more like Alexandria Bay than a vibrant town with real stores that supply everyday items such as Levis. We do not need brew pubs and more gift shops on Main Street. We need places where it is possible to buy medium-priced serviceable goods. Just try buying an ordinary set of bathroom towels here. At the GT they have about four singles in inventory all of them guaranteed to last for one wash. At the bed and bath store they cost too much to allow anyone to actually use them. Have you checked Abbey Lane for jeans? They have some high end fashions but also some sensibly priced threads. Kudos to them for appreciating the fact that we are not all able to pay top dollar for our clothes. Nice that this store gives a choice. More and more it seems that our Main Street stores are catering to tourists and well-to-do retirees from large cities rather than the locals.

  26. Susan says:

    Business cannot make a go of it in off season of 6 months. It leaves little for locals to acquire locally. You can’t buy a pair of Levi jeans in Picton. There is no common medium level clothing store. We have a new brew pub coming in! Are we Alexandra Bay or Niagara on the Lake. Where are locals supposed to shop?

  27. Ron says:

    My last visit to the Town of Picton, ON (PEC) I could see a lot of neglect of public property etc. Wondering if they have Town maintenance people??? From a tourist eyes it looked bad.

  28. lou says:

    1) post office got rid of bins/table etc because someone lit a Fire in the bins . so they cant have them now. unfortunately.

    2) I like the idea of this Improvement/beautification etc of Picton (and other towns)

    just hope it will be put into place, and its not all spend on consulting etc.
    as said there is other grants too.

    some of the ideas for improvement will be Community groups
    Ie, xmas displayes and Tree lighting etc

    just thoughts

  29. Chuck says:

    Couple of points. When and if the drab dated Christmas decor comes down they need to be discarded. Secondly it is not the time to paint road lines but when they contracted this last fall it all washed off in a day. I suspect main street will be under construction this summer with the new funding announced. And the LCBO new build will hit tourist season as well. Makes it all more interesting!

  30. Marie says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I support funding for studies to get grants for downtown beautification… In the meantime, back on planet county, May 24 weekend, considered by many to be the start of the summer/tourist season is only 64 days away… Christmas décor (which was lackluster & dated to begin with) is still up, laneways that could have been plowed, still aren’t, laneways that are freed up from snow are revealing their crusty dusty surfaces, and all the road lines including crosswalks need painting…So that’s 64 days to clean up the town, if not for the tourists, for the taxpayers who live here.

  31. Marnie says:

    Service and post office are not words that go together. Removal of the bench is just more proof.

  32. Regular Josephine says:

    Or you could always ask why the desk and bin was removed. I won’t spoil the surprise but I promise you will have a good blame time!

  33. Susan says:

    If the Post Office provides you garbage feel free to leave it on their floor.

  34. Marnie says:

    Boo to the post office for removing that counter. It was mean and petty. We do not ask for the junk mail that crams our post office boxes. Would it kill them to provide a place to dispose of unwanted flyers? We are not likely to enjoy our junk mail at home as they suggest.

  35. Matt says:

    Hey! How about we start by putting the counter and recycling box back in the Picton post office!
    I’m sorry, but a hand written note saying “please take your recycling home” doesn’t cut it.
    I’d like to know who’s bright idea is was to remove it.

    I know I know…not exactly on topic, but very relevant to downtown Picton.

  36. Mark says:

    I have never seen a senior manager that did not want to see their Department expand and increase in staffing. It results in more power, more budget and less direct responsibility for the top dog.

  37. R.Richman says:

    Yea Yea a two year term, after two years some department head will say we can not get along with out him we better hire him before some one else grabs him. We’ll find something for him to do!!

  38. Susan says:

    Just perhaps positive Susan is stretched and tired of continual tax hits! It’s all tax dollars you know. There are a lot of poor residents struggling that have needs greater than a downtown beautification to attract more tourists.

  39. Susan says:

    Gee we were doing pretty good there and then gloom popped by!! Positive Susan

  40. Susan says:

    Time will tell how this small funding and new position plays out. History would tell us the taxpayer is impacted.

  41. gilbert says:

    I have to say, I had a moment of panic when I read the headline on this article.

  42. Adam Bramburger says:

    Actually, upon reading further, the grant represents 50 per cent of the project costs for the studies, the rest is already included in the municipal budget. The fact remains, however, this project is a precursor to additional funding possibilities.

  43. Susan says:

    Thanks Adam..clear enough!

  44. Adam Bramburger says:

    Yes, this was an advertised and competitive hire and it’s for two years duration.

    As has been reported, the County received the grant from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs’ RED (rural economic development) program to pay for this position as someone who would co-ordinate studies in the five “urban” areas and to come up with one overarching plan that could apply to any hub in the county, i.e. places like Milford or Ameliasburgh also.

    There is a considerable amount of provincial funding available for the actual revitalization – I want to say a potential for two-thirds the cost – but a precursor to the County getting that money is following through with this study, which should be almost entirely funded by this grant.

    As for Napanee, no one — including Coke — would suggest it was all him, but there have been some positive developments. Vacancy rates are probably about the lowest in 10 years in that downtown, there are some very busy boutique stores including the anchor Starlet, they have four or five good weekend festivals in the downtown, and the light show has drawn more traffic to that town in the winter.

  45. Susan says:

    OMG come on folks is there anyone out there with a positive reaction to anything that goes on? Be thankful you live in a peaceful country and TRY, just once, smile! This is turning into the b. fest wall! Life is way too short to sweat the small!! I know your taxes etc aren’t small, but it would be nice to see some one or something welcomed here I the County!

  46. Chuck says:

    You mean get rid of those old fruffy ugly red things that are still hanging from the light standards?

  47. Marie says:

    102,000 in Christmas Lights would go a lot further…

  48. Chuck says:

    Was this an advertised and competitive hire?

  49. Emily says:

    What is $102,000 going to accomplish in 5 centre’s plus pay this fellows salary? Something here just doesn’t add up. Is this a new permanent position to be funded by taxpayers. Why can’t news reports tell us the real picture or get the answers.

  50. R.Richman says:

    Is this another unneeded county employee?New tax year new budget lets spend some money. I was in down town Napanee on the weekend, if what he has done in Napanee is also going be done in PEC then task a photo, because Napanee looks the same down town as it has for the last 10 to 15 years, ran down and deserted.

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