I just read with astonishment, frankly, the “Downtown revitalization presented to council” article in The Beacon by Editor Jasmine Cupp. “The market study found that manufacturing, medical, service and food were the growing areas of industry in the area; the highest being food service.” And, “People are coming to the community; we just need to get them to stay here.” That’s vague. To live? To visit? To what?
“We need to aim towards locals and then to the tourists.” Really? The census in Port Clinton is about 6,000 and 40,000 in Ottawa County. Don’t hundreds of thousands of people visit every season to bird watch (Ottawa County is ranked as one of the best places in the country to visit during migration season), participate in and watch shooting matches at Camp Perry, fish (we have a Cabela’s sponsored national pro-am walleye tournament here), visit the Marblehead Lighthouse (thousands of people visit every year-once source said 500,000 throughout the year), see the tall ships, take the Jet and ferries to the islands, attend the Walleye Festival and Arts in the Park, and enjoy the rising number of excellent restaurants and art galleries? They don’t come to get a new physician.
They are part-time residents, friends of residents, people who love the area–bird watchers, fishing lovers, history buffs–not necessarily full-time residents. They are people who would come all year long if there was a reason to come.
Many businesses literally succeed year after year only because of tourists. There are not enough people in Ottawa County, let alone Port Clinton, to base this initial plan on. Focus on the residents first? Not in my humble opinion. Don’t get me wrong. I live in Ottawa County. I love all of the seasons, including winter, but let’s not disrespect the tourists. Let’s meet everyone’s needs. It can be done.
Why not move the Ottawa County Historical Society building to the center of downtown or Waterworks Park? Create a museum of sorts. Include a history of Camp Perry (it’s fascinating), partner with Magee Marsh to create a bird migration and fish exhibit. People go to the Marblehead Lighthouse because it’s history. Ottawa County has a great historical story. Let’s tell it.
Many people wish there was a venue that would hold more than 200 people–an all year venue. Do it! Have a bird symposium, teach basic boat classes and hunting safety–all in January and February. Make it fun. Add more original public art. Fix the roads. Hire a public relations person for the city/county to create and celebrate the magnificence of the city. There is so much potential here. The bickering must stop and compromise begun.