by Kirby Lindsay, posted 6 June 2012
The Fremont Chamber of Commerce Board meeting on May 30th quickly imparted a large quantity of information, and two firm decisions on City matters. See if you can follow along through a brief highlight reel.
Lighting Round #1: Executive Reports
May Meeting Overrun – The meeting started with a report by Chamber Executive Director Jessica Vets about the May 16th Chamber General Meeting. Held at 35th Street Bistro, Vets had 25 R.S.V.P.’s but 40 people attended. The restaurant managed, quite impressively, to accommodate the crowd, but Vets announced her plan to reinstitute a $5 additional fee for those who attend meetings without an R.S.V.P.
Aurora Bridge Mural paint-out? – Vets reported on correspondence from Patrick Gabriel, the artist that created the Aurora Bridge Mural, which asked that the mural be painted out. He has submitted a proposal for a new work for the space, and asked for $10,000 for the commission. According to Vets, the neighborhood does not want a new mural, and many feel a sense of ownership of this piece. She stated that the community could organize a restoration if that is Gabriel’s reason for wanting it removed. Urban Art Works has also asked for a meeting to discuss potential other art murals for Fremont, and both have been scheduled for discussion on June 5th.
Committee Chair Replacements sought – Stephanie Hara has opened a second Show Pony location, in L.A., and cannot continue on the Chamber Board. Vets asked the Board Members to think about other retailers that could replace her. Also, Adrian Hollingsworth has a new job and plans to continue on the Board, but she must step down as Marketing Chair for the foreseeable future.
Vets then reported on a fine levied by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) on the Fremont Rocket sculpture, because it extends over the public-right-of-way (sidewalk.) Property owner Brian Regan admitted that he has received this kind of fine from the City, and found they cannot be fought. The Board agreed that the Chamber can pay the $140 fine, but many Board Members also declared it absurd.
The fine actually went to the Fremont Business Association, although the FBA dissolved and/or was absorbed into the Chamber in the late 1990s. The Board joked about sending the City after the FBA, and about recalibrating the Rocket. Legend states that the Rocket was originally aimed at City Hall – but it could be pointed at the SDOT offices instead.
Finally, when they got beyond the jokes, the Board agreed that Seattle City Council President Sally Clark should be consulted. The need to retain public art, particularly when it is a public enhancement and not a commercial endeavor, should mitigate in this situation. Also, while the Rocket does extend over the sidewalk, it also allows considerable clearance to any passing pedestrian.
Retirement Accounts For All
Vets had also been sent a form letter, by the Economic Opportunity Institute (the same public policy non-profit responsible for the Seattle Paid Sick Leave Ordinance,) requesting that the Chamber send it to the Seattle City Council in support of City-endorsed Retirement Security Accounts. An attached FAQ described the RSAs as being designed with small business owners and employees in mind.
The Chamber Board, which contains a strong majority of small business owners, agreed that plenty of private businesses sell easy-to-access retirement programs. “We do not support this,” three Board Members stated clearly, and a motion no to support this proposal passed unanimously. The Fremont Chamber, the Board agreed, sees no reason for the City to get involved in offering retirement benefits.
Lighting Round #2: Major Events
Fremont Fair – Phil Megenhardt, of Bold Hat Productions, distributed promotional posters and coasters, and reported on the first ever Friday night at the Fair, on June 15th. “Our expectation is 500 people,” he admitted. He also emphasized the large contribution the vendors make to the Fair, particularly that the booth fees they pay help underwrite other crowd pleasers such as the Art Cars, the Abbey Arts booth, and the Solstice Parade. Megenhardt also mentioned efforts to get potholes filled on the streets of the fairgrounds, as they present dangerous tripping hazards.
Oktoberfest – Megenhardt, who also produces the Fremont Oktoberfest on behalf of the Chamber, said that preparation for this event (coming September 21st – 23rd) is “going great!” The City of Seattle Special Events Committee (SEC) did change the status of the event to ‘gated,’ and that has increased the permit fee by $4,000. Chamber President Ken Saunderson talked with the SEC Chairperson, and he heard her state that the status change is unavoidable.
Outdoor Cinema – Jon Hegeman pointed out that Outdoor Movies will celebrate its 20th Anniversary this year!
Mobile Food Rodeo – Hegeman asked for feedback. Observations included a ‘good job’ on clean-up, and admiration for the great attendance – with the request that whoever ordered the weather that day be asked to assist with the Fair and Oktoberfest. Also, Vets heard from area restaurants that the Rodeo may have helped increase their business – and that it certainly didn’t hurt.
Neighbor Complaints on Major Events – After the Mobile Food Rodeo, Vets received two complaints from residents that live near the N 35th St & Phinney Ave N site. They complained, in general, about the increased number of events being hosted in this area, and the negative impacts they have.
And there concludes the highlights from the May 2012 Fremont Chamber board meeting. To learn more, attend the next Chamber Board meeting on June 27th at History House at 8a – or visit the newly redesigned Chamber website.
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- FNC Highlight Reel: Of Public Art, Playgrounds & Land Use
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©2012 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.