A possible solution to the potential ending of the Main Street Hardy program that began in 1994 was the topic of a special meeting of the Hardy City Council held Jan. 8 at Hardy City Hall.
Mayor Nina Thornton said that she received a letter from members of the organization and called the meeting to try to come up with a way to keep the Main Street organization functional. Thornton said the reasons members cited for ending the program was budget constraints as well as trouble finding willing volunteers to help with the work of the program. One of the board members also reportedly told Thornton that they do not have the support of the city and the program is hard to run with many of the current business owners. By mandate the program must have $39,000 a year in their budget to operate.
The letter provided by Main Street Hardy states that the program will no longer be accepting designated funds from the City of Hardy and will not operate after Feb. 28, 2010, at which time Main Street Hardy will vacate the office space provided by the City of Hardy. The letter also states that the Main Street Arkansas program, the parent organization of Main Street Hardy has been contacted for any further instructions on ceasing the program.
The organization has sponsored numerous events and members assure the public that the Veteran's Memorial Committee has agreed to sponsor the Gun and Knife Show as an ongoing event and the organization also offered to provide mailing lists of previous vendors from their other events including the Arts and Crafts Festival and Junk and Jam that have traditionally been held in Hardy in the event any other city would like to sponsor these events.
Thornton said she called the meeting to see if there might be a solution. She said she did not want to see it go down the drain. The Main Street Hardy is part of the Main Street Arkansas Program which is part of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. The program was designed to renovate down town historic districts and encourage economic development to the area by making the downtown area a desirable location to shop while encouraging businesses to move to the district rather than out, which could potentially cause these historic districts to become empty.
Thornton said the city has helped the organization in the past, but for 2010 the $12,000 Main Street Hardy requested could not be given by the city. She said she offered them $6,000 but they refused. She said there was discussion amongst council and board members of Main Street about options for keeping the program going.
One of the options discussed was the possibility of replacing the board with new volunteers; an option members said was not possible. Another thought was the city taking over the responsibilities of the Main Street program. No decision was made, but Mayor Thornton said she asked one of the representatives from Main Street Arkansas at the state level to speak with council regarding possible alternatives for the program. She also discussed the possibility of obtaining grants to help the program and said, "As a city we do not want to see this program fail."
A representative from Main Street Arkansas is scheduled to meet with council at a later date.