Main Street plans to liven up shopping hub of Picayune

Published 7:16 pm Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Shopping in Picayune is a home town experience and the members of the Picayune Main Street organization are dreaming up ideas to make that experience even more pleasurable, drawing more people to the area.

For three days, members of Picayune Main Street participated in a workshop while listening to speakers who offered ideas that the store owners and Picayune could use.

Main Street manager Reba Beebe said there are many plans to get more people to tour the area as they arrive at the still to be built train station. Other plans include connecting West and East Canal streets with a walking path across the rail road tracks and walk-don’t walk lights across U.S 11 so there is more exposure to both sides of the street.

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Other ideas included using West Canal Street as part of the walking trail now only on Goodyear Boulevard, to bring more people to the Main Street area. That idea was proposed by many of the organization’s members attending the meeting.

Over the three days, members of Picayune Main Street participated in a workshop by the Your Town program to help them come up with ideas to increase public participation in the area. Funding for the Your Town program came from the National Endowment for the Arts passed down to the Carl Small Town Center then passed down to the Mississippi Main Street Association, said Stacy Pair, director of Program Services for Mississippi Main Street Association. Members of the Louisiana Main Street Association and numerous speakers came to help with the workshop, Pair said.

“We were really lucky to get these guys with us and look at Picayune with fresh eyes and give sound ideas,” Pair said.

Mississippi Main Street will try to help Picayune Main Street find the funding to put some of their ideas together through grant application writing and advocacy, Pair said.

“We will help them, but we can’t write a check,” Pair said.

One of the speakers gave the members of Picayune Main Street ideas that are quick to implement and cost effective such as planting trees, flowers or rehabilitating store fronts. Norman Mintz, design director for Bryant Restoration Corp., said that Picayune is already well on its way to a nicer commerce area, but there are some other things that could be put in place.

“Things are going quite well,” Mintz said about the area.

He said that more work could be done to the sidewalk area, such as trees to add aesthetics and shade.

“It’s something that is very much needed,” Mintz said.

Mintz has noticed that there are plenty of benches and plenty of lighting along the sidewalks of Canal Street, things that add to the atmosphere. Mintz said he would also like to see flowers planted along the streets to add color and excitement.

“They send a message to visitors and shoppers alike that somebody cares,” Mintz said.

A major thing Mintz would like to see in the area is a farmers’ market, an idea put forward by Picayune Main Street member Pam Gordon.

Beebe said that the Picayune Main Street Association has added many touches to the area to enhance the feel. So far, the group has funded the addition of 20 new iron benches, 40 banners with the Picayune logo, a new clock scheduled to be installed soon and 55 new lamp posts that were installed with help from city employees. The group also funds the Street Fair, Shop by Candlelight and the collectible Christmas ornaments, she said. Funds were raised for those additions through the sales of the ornaments, the Street Fair, the yearly egg drop and Main Street membership fees, Beebe said.

Ideas to liven up the area and bring in more shoppers include a small train to provide tours of the area of Goodyear Boulevard and Canal Street as proposed by Lynn Barzé of Barzé Place Antique and Collectibles Mall. Barzé said that when the new hospital is built she would suggest the old hospital be used as a place for seniors to reside.

Liz Ford, a member of the Pascagoula Main Street board, suggested that the sidewalks along Canal Street could use some bright paint and Jack Reed Park could be spruced up with more lighting and landscaping. Also, there could be stricter code enforcement to keep large trucks from traveling down Canal Street, Ford said.