[Avon-theatre-news] AVON EXTRA! EXTRA!

Skip Huston Skip at TheAvon.com
Tue Jun 29 15:15:56 EDT 2010

Hiya, Folks!
For those of you who don't read the Herald & Review (and you really should be, y'know) here is an editorial that appeared today that concerns ALL OF US!!
While I think the person who wrote this editorial is being very fair and level-headed, I also think the Decatur City Council has a long way to go before they begin to understand the needs and dynamics of running a small business.
(To be more exact: TRYING to run a small business during the virtual invasion of occupying forces of Decatur Celebration weekend!).

One point (among many) that I would dispute here in the below editorial is the statement in the last paragraph wherein the writer finds it (to quote) "odd that more small-business owners don't take advantage of the huge increase in traffic."
It isn't "odd" at all. 
For the most part, a huge percentage of the Celebration goers are not interested in anything but...Celebration!
Many of them do not come downtown for any other reason, and will not be back except for... Celebration.

Even though we offer better quality snacks at lower prices, with NO "wristband" required, every year we see the hordes walk right past us as if we didn't exist!

Indeed, I find it "odd" the editorial writer would make this statement with no sense of the reality of the situation.

(That's like the clueless who suggest that I should just take a vacation that weekend! I am so glad they think I can so blithely decide to take a vacation---maybe these uninformed persons would care to PAY for it too? I sure can't thanks to losing a precious summer weekend revenue because of Celebration!) 

Anyway, here's the editorial...
(and it ain't bad, really...)
(Celebration) Parking compromise seems fair to all
A compromise on parking in the downtown area during Decatur Celebration has been reached.

The compromise, while a little confusing and as with most compromises not exactly what anyone wanted, seems to address the parking situation fairly.

In the past, the city of Decatur has allowed Decatur Celebration to charge for parking in the city's parking lots and garages, including garages at North Water and North streets and Franklin and East Main streets, as well as the two city lots on opposite corners of Wood and Main streets. Celebration has charged $5 to park in those areas, with the proceeds going to Celebration.

That process has upset some downtown business owners, who say it hurts their business when patrons have to pay $5, even though they may not be attending Celebration. Avon Theatre owner Skip Huston has consistently complained about the impact of the parking on his business, which is across the street from the garage on North Water Street.

The compromise is that patrons will still have to pay for parking but can be reimbursed by downtown businesses participating in the program. Decatur Celebration will then reimburse the business owners for the parking fees.

What often gets lost in the discussion about downtown parking is that these parking areas are not "owned" by any of the businesses. The fact is that the city's taxpayers own the parking lots and entrusts the city council to make wise decisions about their use.

Huston has asked for several years that parking in the garage near his business be free during the festival. That's an understandable request, but the fact is that free parking that close to Celebration would most likely fill up quickly, leaving theater patrons jockeying for other parking areas. Free or not, parking during Celebration is going to be a challenge.

Mayor Mike McElroy accurately described the situation as "no-win" and said Celebration has always cost the city more than it returns in revenue. McElroy said he also was sympathetic to the fact that Celebration was facing financial difficulties.

Balancing the needs of Celebration with those of small-business owners is tricky. For some small businesses, "losing" a weekend of business can be harmful. At the same time, Celebration attracts thousands of people to downtown, and it seems odd that more small-business owners don't take advantage of the huge increase in traffic. Downtown business owners also have to realize that the city parking areas should be used for the greater good of the city and are not there to solely serve businesses.

The validation and reimbursement compromise seems like a workable, although potentially confusing, solution.

Posted in Editorial on Tuesday, June 29, 2010 5:00 am Updated: 11:57 pm.  
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