I can’t believe how fast the summer has been going. The city has been going through the annual budget process. We are renovating things at my business office. A number of new businesses have either opened downtown or will be shortly. It is times like this I feel like I should strap on roller skates just to keep up!
I am particularly pleased with how much participation there was for the July 27th Shop and Sip event. This event has been growing every time it is held, with more businesses participating and more people on the sidewalks walking around and checking everything out. Both Pete’s Grand Central and the Cotee River Brewing Company were opened for the first time. Both were amazing. Pete’s has a bunch of antiques for sale, including real pin ball machines. The Cotee River Brewing Company has a big picture window where you can look in and see the brewing operation.
If you haven’t been to Ordinance One lately, you need to stop in. Work on restoring the old fire station map is progressing and you owe it to yourself to check out this piece of our history.
The character of the historic downtown is changing for the better. We’ve still got a few challenges, including crafting a food truck ordinance that allows them, while protecting our existing businesses and bringing the sidewalk dining ordinance up to date to encourage more use of the sidewalks when the weather permits.
Kazu’s should be opening in the not too distant future. They are hard at work fixing up the old Estellas.
Work on the new home for Wright’s Natural Market has also been progressing. The last report I heard was that they hoping to be completely open by the end of September or first of October.
The vibe downtown is definitely taking hold. I’m regularly hearing from folks who are amazed at how much New Port Richey has changed for the better over the past few years. Some of our more esoteric upgrades are having the desired effect as well. We recently installed a third EV charging station, this one at the City Hall / Library complex. On August 7th an EV owner left this note:
Nice charger. I was just going to get enough juice to head home and ended up staying the entire day in New Port Richey. I did breakfast, then the park, lunch, then a friend met me at the little shops on main, couldn’t pass up ice cream, and by the time I came back my car was fully charged.
I was pretty excited because she came to charge her car and wound up spending the whole day, buying breakfast, lunch, and ice cream. She also went shopping in our downtown stores. The Coda was that the same EV owner came back on the 13th and left another note:
Stopped by NPR for lunch and a charge!
The charging stations charge most EVs at a rate of about 25 miles per hour. That leaves an out of town EV owner with time to fill and I can’t think of a better way for them to spend that time than walking a couple of blocks into the downtown, having a meal or two, and doing a bit of shopping.
Given the projections regarding EV ownership over the next few years, we will continue to work to add charging stations in city lots. Duke Energy has a grant program that we hope to use. Downtown businesses, as well as those in the Marine District, are eligible for city matching grants if they decide they would like to install charging stations.
We will be hosting our first ever National Drive Electric Week event on Saturday, September 8th, from 10am to 2pm. Come on down to Sims Park and see what all the excitement is about. The event will be centered at the corner of Bank and Grand. If you have a plugin car, please register so we can make sure we have a spot for you. As of right now, we’ve got thirteen cars signed up. We also have some of our area car dealers bringing their plug in cars so you can take a test drive, if you like.
With everything going on in New Port Richey, I hope to see you downtown soon.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor