Flirting With Controversy
by Kirby LindsayWhat’s a creative, active, and ideologically diverse community going to do? The Fremont Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors faced this conundrum on several issues at its last meeting, held on July 28th.
Money Comes And Money Goes
After discussion and acceptance of the annual budget, the Board members heard a presentation by Philly Hoshko and Lacey Lybecker, of Bold Hat Productions, on the Fremont Oktoberfest. This annual event funds most Fremont Chamber operations, particularly its Executive Director and community grants program.
Hoshko mentioned advertising possibilities for businesses, as well as ways Chamber members (and all community folk) can get involved in Oktoberfest. The biggest need remains volunteers during the festival – including beer pourers, front gate workers and merchandise sellers. Hoshko also mentioned, for those who just wanna have fun, that Fremont Oktoberfest tickets go on sale August 16.
A conflict has sprung up, for the second time, over the type of Street Use permit issued for Oktoberfest, held on public streets and two U-Park lots. The festival includes a (large) gated beer garden that requires ticket purchase to enter. It also includes ‘outside’ areas with a non-ticketed beer garden (visitors only pay for beer to be consumed), a kids’ area, stages, and information & vendor booths. Bold Hat asked the Board to help clarifying for the City of Seattle Special Events committee the status of the event.
After this, the Board voted on recommendations for recipients of the Fremont Chamber mid-year community grants. A committee reviewed applications and submitted a list of recommendations to the Board. The Board unanimously accepted the list as presented.
Of seven projects submitted, six were awarded funds - Fremont First Friday Art Walk, Trick-or-Treat In Fremont 2010, Fremont Abbey Arts Center (for gallery space walls), Fremont Arts Council (for Troll graffiti abatement), Graffiti Sheriff Gene Slagle, and the Frontal Exposure Art Project.
One project did not get funded - the Friends of the Troll’s Knoll park. Fremont Chamber Executive Director Jessica Vets reported the committee considered the size of the project (and the requested sum) too large for this grant program. The Board wants to throw its strong support behind this project including support on any applications the organizers may make for larger grants.
Opinions, Partnerships and Avoiding Animosity
Vets also asked the Board to support waiving the meeting fee for the upcoming marketing panel discussion (on September 15th at 5p at OmCulture) for any who bring a donation of food for FamilyWorks. The tough economy has made it difficult for small business owners, the same ones who need help with marketing, to afford meeting fees. The Board agreed.
Vets also asked permission to pursue membership discounts for those who join both the Fremont Chamber and other, partner Chambers – including geographic (Wallingford, Ballard, University District, etc.) or overlapping community (Hispanic, Chinese, etc.) The Board overwhelming approved these potential partnerships.
Then Land Use committee chairperson Brian Regan distributed a handout on the City-wide proposed low-rise zoning code changes. Two highlights of the changes were a consolidation of the original five designations into three and the elimination of parking requirements for multifamily structures in urban villages (including lower Fremont.)
All changes only apply to new construction. Building parking for low-rise multi-family structures “will be voluntary,” explained Regan, a property developer. Regan insisted he always builds parking, because potential tenants demand it. Board members questioned the result of developers who might not consider future tenant usage, especially as transit services get cut. Regan also said the changes “allow more flexibility.”
Finally, Regan asked if the Board would take a position on the Mayor’s proposed tiered closing of establishments that sell liquor. This matter brought out several varying opinions, and Vets pointed out that the Chamber membership has opinions on all sides of this potentially contentious issue. The Board decided not to take sides, and will allow members to voice their opinions independently.
Voicing opinions is a major part of community activism, and what makes the Fremont Chamber work. To share your opinion, or hear those of others’, attend the next Chamber Board meeting on the last Wednesday of the month, at 8 a.m., at History House (790 N 34th St). The next meeting will be August 25th and, as always, everyone is welcome!
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.