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The latest news about only half of Main Street being painted is disappointing and frustrating to many, including myself. Benjamin Moore’s idea to honor the origins of the cradle of business by launching the “Main Street Matters” campaign was nothing short of genius. It was also an admirable, generous philanthropic gesture from a huge corporation.
The spring of 2013 thousands of local residents “voted” to receive the honor of being one of the 20 historical Main Streets in the USA to receive a much-needed facelift. The town was buzzing.
Moore’s Website promised that “pro designers would meet with local leaders to select the best historical colors” for the winners’ revitalizations. Then they promised “to provide the paint supplies for facades, porches, railing, shutters and other exterior building trims.” In addition they “would hire skilled local professional painting contractors to do the necessary prep work, light repair, if needed — and, of course, the painting.”
When all was wrapped up they offered to “work with town officials and local business owners to host a celebration (with the community) while enjoying music, food and just hanging out.” What was not to like? Even the part about Brad Pitt’s foundation helping to spread the good news was cool. Way to go, Brad.
The excitement was palpable with business owners on Placerville’s Main Street. As a longtime resident in Placerville and former shop owner, I celebrated this opportunity for our community and the potential prospects economically for struggling businesses. Alas, a positive change was coming about without the usual political struggles and stakeholders’ bantering upon details. The deal was simple.
The news and the rumor machine said we were to start the transformation in June and within the month Main Street would be done. Buildings were lead tested and business owners paid for some early repairs to prepare for the transformation. We were about to enjoy our bounty. O, frabjous day.
Suddenly that’s not the case. Word’s out only one half of Main Street will be spruced and cleaned up — from the Belltower to the courthouse, at latest post. And only the bottom floor at that. What happens to the other half of Main Street? If Main Street matters, then all of Main Street matters. All of it. The shop owners weren’t on the prowl looking for a free lunch, they were fortunate and lucky and grateful. This sudden change has not been explained clearly to the shop owners I know on Main Street. Misleading doublespeak? A broken promise? Funding dropouts? A pivot in priorities? What is the truth here? Who dropped the ball — or can of paint — as in this case?
What alternatives can this town offer to assist those on the lower end of Main Street to get their buildings painted? I say Main Street matters.