Truckee merchants shake up downtown association
TRUCKEE “-As downtown Truckee suffers through the economic downturn with everyone else, businesses are trying to revitalize the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association.
After roughly a year of discussion of possible solutions like a Main Street Program or Business Improvement District, the association grew the board from five to 14, and elected a new president, Dean Schaecher.
“If you want to help effect some change, now is the time. Everything is completely open,” Schaecher said.
The key, Schaecher said, is to get participation from as many businesses as possible, including those on Commercial Row, in Brickelltown, on Jibboom and Bridge Streets, and on West River Street.
“I think the [Truckee Downtown Merchants Association] has done a lot of good, but it has also rubbed some people the wrong way,” Schaecher said. “People have to work together before we can fight common threats.”
Some of those potential threats ” competing commercial planned projects ” include the Barsell property above downtown near the cemetery, the Hilltop project to the south near the Cottonwood, and the Railyard, which could expand on downtown to the east, he said.
So by bringing businesses together as one voice, Schaecher said merchants could have a stronger say in the planning of projects, as well as other issues like paid parking.
That stronger voice could also make the merchants association more effective in soliciting funding from the town, he said.
David Griffith, redevelopment and housing coordinator for the town, agreed that a strong, unified voice from downtown merchants will help in approaching the town for support and funding.
“I think the town would seriously consider it,” Griffith said. “It’s encouraging to see increasing interest from a broader scope of downtown merchants.”
He said the state’s recent raid on the Truckee Redevelopment Agency for nearly $130,000 shouldn’t really affect the merchant association’s odds either.
The previous president, Stefanie Olivieri, said she still thinks a Business Improvement District, which requires businesses to pay dues, will still be necessary to fund things like an executive director, marketing, and programs like Truckee Thursdays.
“All those things take time and money,” Olivieri said. “The new board is going to have to set a budget and figure out how to pay for it.”
Schaecher said he thought there would be too much resistance to a Business Improvement District from downtown shops; however, he said he doesn’t expect such a program to happen this year.
“Personally I don’t see how we could get a [Business Improvement District] through. A lot of people are freaked out about more taxes,” Schaecher said.
The new Truckee Downtown Merchants Association board will meet Monday, Feb. 2, at 8 a.m. at the Truckee Diner to discuss next steps.
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