Weighing the future: As pandemic recedes, Perry Focus Group discusses how to move forward
A focus group was conducted Wednesday evening at the Masonic Temple on 21 North Main St.
The group included approximately 23 participants from across the county — business owners, residents, and other members of the community who wanted to get involved.
“In a conversation about resiliency, the idea is that we have people engaged in this discussion and seeking answers for how to improve our economic strength and tackle the next level of challenges. That right there is a very positive sign,” said Mayor Rick Hauser, who was in attendance. “I’m optimistic and looking forward to what emerges from this so that, as a representative of the village board I can help shepherd it forward.”
An array of topics was tackled, such as housing affordability, strengths in the community, local demands of goods and services, barriers, and strengths that are affecting downtown development and resilience.
“It comes down to how you think of the word important,” said Jared Shepard, a senior planning associate from MRB group.
MRB group was assisting the Village of Perry and Perry Main Street Association in running the focus group.
Many different members of the group had opinions on what drew them to Perry or what kept them there, but there was a resounding belief that the community at Perry was what set them apart.
“Perry is a ‘yes’ community,” Hauser said. “Our secret weapon is our people. People say yes and step up to get involved. They step up to rehab buildings instead of saying that ‘somebody should do something about that’ — people step up to do it.”
People at the session felt like you could walk down Main Street with your family and not only admire the historic architecture but experience the variety of storefronts and people that they’d meet along the way.
Giuseppe Gentile, owner of the Biblio-Tech Café, a bookstore on Main St., was in attendance at the meeting.
“I was more curious than anything, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t really know was going to be talked about,” he said. “Curiosity is what brought me. Like everything that we seem to do in this town, there’s a lot of smart people in the room bringing up a lot of important points and figuring things out.”
The next meeting is being held on May 4. Location has yet to be determined.