The P.A.C.E. (People Achieving Community Enhancement) group was formed in April of 1991 to establish an atmosphere of cooperation between downtown merchants, property owners, city officials and area residents; thereby, creating an environment suitable for economic and historical revitalization of the Thomasville Downtown area.
HISTORY of PACE
In 1991, the desire to re-ignite downtown gave rise to a loosely organized group of citizens, who initially sought out building owners to partner with them to improve their buildings, but no building owners were interested in the opportunity. So they redirected their energy, and without any formal structure undertook their first project: removal of overhead electrical cables that formed a cluttered canopy over the streets and the installation of 86 ornamental street lamps ($131,000, 100% funded by private contributions).
By 1996, PACE applied for non-profit status and an executive director was hired. PACE secured three years of funding from local foundations. (It is the only time that PACE has had a paid staff position.) During her tenure, she recruited The Urban Design Assistance Team (UDAT), who worked with PACE, city government and other community stakeholders to draw up a comprehensive analysis of the community. UDAT issued a report outlining workable and innovative design solutions. When funding for the executive director position ended, PACE continued forward as an all-volunteer organization.
Since then, PACE has used the UDAT report to identify pursuable projects. However, PACE is not bound by the report. Some project ideas were initiated by individual members such as the farmers market building.
COLLABORATION is a fundamental part of PACE’s culture and success. The City of Thomasville has been a willing and accommodating partner from the very beginning. At PACE’s very first meeting, the mayor and city manager were included.
Over a 10-year span, PACE purchased two different land parcels and managed the Farmers Market, PACE Park Amphitheater and streetscape building projects leveraging in-kind services from the city: cutting and removal of concrete, water and sewer installation, excess dirt removal, building permits, addition of water lines and electricity. Generally, one council member attends meetings, but during these building projects, the city manager and two city council members participated.
Once completed, the park was then deeded to the city. Currently, Parks and Recreation manages the Park’s event schedule. The program director of Parks and Recreation is a PACE board member.
The contractor for the Farmers Market building commented that the projects were the smoothest he had ever undertaken because of the relationship between PACE, the City and himself.
PACE also works with the City Beautification Committee, Thomasville Tourism (one of our board members is on the tourism board) and regularly consults with the Thomasville Historic Preservation Committee. When the Historic Preservation Committee pursued historic districting, PACE provided funding support for their endeavors.
Originally, PACE only received in-kind support from the City. The City now allocates funding from their budget for PACE. We receive $30,000 per year, ($25,000 general fund and $5,000 façade grant program).
Farmers Market, PACE Park Amphitheater, Streetscape improvements , Waste Receptacle replacement, NewBridge Courtyard, Murals and mural upgrades, Cates Alley
Historic Building Restoration, Chair City Art, Farm to Table Event
The PACE Group, Inc. (People Achieving Community Enhancement) of Thomasville is a citizen-led organization whose guiding mission is the improvement of Thomasville. PACE is composed of 15 dedicated volunteer board members who live or work in Thomasville. There are no paid staff positions.