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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Downtown Incorporated held a public meeting Thursday night to discuss its plan to improve downtown by adding ambassadors and cleaning up the area. Business owners, patrons, and residents made their way to the meeting and had plenty on their minds.

“Downtown is a wonderful environment. My husband has always said it’s like Mayberry,” says downtown business owner Jeanne Poole. “You know of every body, you take care of everybody.”

Poole is just one downtown business owner that came to WDI’s Thursday night meeting about reducing crime and cleaning up downtown. She says she loves the area but she is not so excited too about Wilmington Downtown Inc’s plan and she doesn’t think downtown should be the only folks who have their taxes raised. “The goals, as I said tonight, are commendable,” says Poole. “A lot of work and a lot of input and research has been put into it, but downtown is not just for the business owners downtown, it’s for everybody. All of the residents of New Hanover county and from all over the world that come here.”

WDI executive director John Hinnant says the point of the meeting was to get the conversation started in the community. They are presenting the idea to Wilmington City Council later this month, and they say they need feedback. Hinnant says although the group seemed agitated, he thinks it’s all apart of the process. “They either don’t know or they have a fear, so they react in anger, because they don’t like the new tax,” says Hinnant.

The proposal suggests the addition of downtown ambassadors and economic development to make the area more attractive and keep folks safe. Business owner Gene Merritt says he thinks the plan is a good idea for Wilmington. “I believe it would improve everything,” says Merritt. “It would increase the security, increase the cleanliness issues, and the green issues. I believe it would be really positive.”

Most business owners at the meeting seemed to be against the the plan. One presenter commented that he had never seen so many people against an idea. WDI says it plans to have more meetings with the public before the report goes to City Council on March 23.

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