PARKERSBURG - Parkersburg officials were pleased with the results of the first Point Park Music Series in August and are looking forward to expanding that program and adding more in the future.
Cecil Childress, a member of the Downtown Task Force and general manager of the Blennerhassett Hotel, said the Point Park Music Series was well received, drawing nearly 2,400 people for the final program.
"That speaks well about the event and the series," he said.
Frank Shereli portrays Frankie Valli during the Point Park?Music Series.
Childress hopes a couple of results will occur from the series and other possible events in the future. He wants the Parkersburg community to rethink its connection to the river and also wants the community to rethink the value and importance of downtown Parkersburg in general.
"I'm convinced that if you don't have a viable, vibrant downtown, you do not have a viable, vibrant community," he said.
As the Blennerhassett's manager, Childress said there was a noticeable impact on the hotel's Friday night dining numbers while the series was being held, although it's too early to be certain since the weekend is the biggest time of the week for local dining in general.
"It's still too early to tell for us to get a sense of how well we can market these things and building packages to pull people in," he said.
"All that said, we get a lot of people coming and having dinner here before they go to an event. We certainly want that," Childress said.
Looking ahead, Childress wants to make plans about ways to improve the perception of downtown Parkersburg and believes a reevaluation is needed for Point Park, with the improvements that have been made like the amphitheater and public restrooms. Officials need to determine what type of infrastructure is needed to help expand the offerings and programs that can be done there, he said.
Childress said one idea being considered for the future is temporary boat slips.
About 40 boats gathered on the river around the Riverfront Park Amphitheatre for the final concert in the music series.
If the city could provide temporary slips for boats during such events, that would allow them to tie up and come on shore to take advantage of other things, such as vendors and concessions, during events while also providing access to the downtown area of Parkersburg.
"We need to make sure that we're taking this great park and enhancing the experience of people using it," Childress said.
In early September, following the final Point Park concert, the Downtown Task Force created a new entity called Downtown PKB to promote the downtown area and named Carrie Nesselrode as its executive director.
Downtown PKB will be taking over events like the Downtown Farmers' Market, the Taste of Parkersburg and the music series as it works to create and enhance opportunities in downtown Parkersburg. The agency is funded through a five-year financial commitment from the Ross Foundation. Its mission is to enhance, revitalize and aesthetically improve the downtown area, to promote community activities and tourism, to support commercial establishment and to encourage new business opportunities.
Nesselrode said she is just getting started, but believes the task force and other organizations active in downtown Parkersburg did an excellent job of building a strong foundation for future efforts. As an example, the music series was very successful at bringing people to downtown Parkersburg to see the new Point Park and what it has to offer, she said.
"We want to build on those and make them better," she said.
Nesselrode said Downtown PKB will be looking at ways to continue making improvements at the Point and elsewhere in the downtown area, while also be working on other issues and programs including economic development. Downtown PKB will be creating a website, a newsletter and work through social and traditional media outlets.