It was a busy month for the Niwot LID advisory committee, with a host of summer events on the funding docket, and some new business regarding liability.
Things got rolling with Bruce Rabeler and the monthly treasurer’s report. On the revenue side, the county reported that LID businesses collected $25,585 in revenue during the first two months of 2019, down from 2017 ($27,290), but up from 2018, though the latter total is still not finalized due to what appears to be an erroneous credit that the state is looking into. As for expenditures, through April, the LID has approved $65,236.11 in expenses, or about 50 percent of its annual $132,854 budget. With pending requests, total expenditures for the year rose to $94,695.79.
Moving on to the evening’s funding proposals, member Bruce Warren was up first to request $10,000 for the 2019 Rock & Rails concert series, the same amount granted for the past several years.
Now in its 14th season, the 2019 series kicks off on Thursday, June 6, and will run on consecutive Thursday nights through August 29, with a break for the 4th of July, a total of 12 concerts. As in years past, an opening act will take the stage at 5 p.m. for happy hour, followed by the headliner until to 9 p.m. Food and beverages, including beer, wine and margaritas, will again be available from local vendors.
In 2018, the Rock & Rails cleared more than $42,000 for its joint event organizers, the Niwot Cultural Arts Association and the Niwot Business Association, which in turn put the funds towards the Niwot Children’s Park and infrastructure improvements to Whistle Stop Park. It also generated about $1,000 in sales tax collections for the LID.
Concert-goers were also generous with their Tip Jar donations, with a record-breaking total of $17,672, an average of $1,359 per concert. This year, more than 16 local programs will have a chance to collect, including the Mwebaza Foundation, the Lefthand Watershed Oversight Group, and various Niwot High teams and clubs.
Warren said that Rock & Rails organizers are projecting lower revenues for 2019, since there are only 12 nights in this year’s series. However, they are expecting to earn about the same amount, which will go towards a permanent addition to Whistle Stop Park
“We’re hoping to raise enough money to build a building that will house the beverage tent, provide storage for the beverage trailer and the band trailer, which is now stored outdoors and subject to the weather,” he said. Reserve funds and donations will also help fund the addition, which is projected to cost about $125,000. Construction could begin as early as the first week of September.
In the discussion that followed, Rabeler and member Scott Firle raised questions about putting taxpayer funds towards an event that earns a substantial profit, and suggested direct grants for the costs of maintaining and improving the adjoining park properties instead. Warren, with an assist from chair Laura Skaggs, responded by explaining that the LID’s sponsorship of the town’s premier event is about more than just offsetting costs.
“I hear and appreciate your argument,” Skaggs said, “but in terms of exposure and positive community reinforcement of the fact the LID dollars are going to events beloved by the community, to me that has some value as well, that I think that might get lost in just a maintenance fee for the Children’s Park.”
Firle responded by making a motion to approve the request, which approved unanimously, with Warren abstaining, citing his part ownership of the Left Hand Valley Courier, which receives advertising revenue.
Warren also presented the next request, for $2,500 from the NCAA to fund First Friday Art Walk musicians for the six months between May and October. It was approved unanimously, with no abstentions.
Member Anne Postle presented the NCAA’s next request, for $1,746.68 to help offset costs associated with the eighth annual Why Not Niwot? juried art show, which runs through the end of May. This year’s contest attracted 28 Niwot-themed entries, which are on display in 11 business locations around town. Visitors can vote for their favorite using a People’s Choice Award ballot, available at any participating venue. The winner of the juried portion and the top vote-getter will be announced at First Friday on June 7.
“It’s an event that really costs very little, but the impact on the businesses is very great,” Postle said. “You can’t vote unless you visit all these places, so it gets people into businesses that they wouldn’t necessarily step foot in...It’s an event that really does what we want it to do.”
After more supportive discussion, the board approved the request unanimously, with Warren again abstaining.
Warren next presented a request for $1,500 from the NBA, for periodic mowing services and invasive weed removal in the future public parking lot west of Murray Street. It was approved unanimously.
The night’s final applicant was Niwot’s Economic Development Director Catherine McHale, who requested $13,713 to fund the second half of the NBA’s 2019 marketing budget, bringing the total for the year to $33,735, nearly 14 percent lower than last year’s approved amount of $39,060. McHale said the savings was mostly due to an adjustment in their advertising plan, and the NBA’s decision to take on more of the costs directly. The request was approved unanimously, with Warren again abstaining.
Moving on to new business, it was McHale again, this time to discuss the NBA’s marketing efforts for 2019 in more detail.
“Obviously the moratorium had an effect, and there’s been a cautious attitude from some people coming to town,” she said. “Certainly, anecdotally, from discussions that I’ve had with brokers, it’s because they didn’t know what was going to happen. Now that the moratorium is closed, I think we’ll get some more impetus.”
She was optimistic in particular about a “great, successful” commercial broker’s luncheon in March that brought 40-50 real estate professionals to town. She has also initiated changes in the Niwot-themed print advertising campaign, and hopes to print and distribute a new version of the town map later this year.
McHale also gave a brief business update, reporting that Fly Away Home, a decor retailer, will be signing a long-term lease for space in Cottonwood Square. There is also interest in the former Power Keg Brewing location at Second and Murray.
Skaggs then raised the issue of sidewalk maintenance and potential liability, after an incident in downtown Niwot last month resulted in an injury to a local resident. Boulder County officials suggested that the LID bears the responsibility for the repairs, since it was originally formed to fund infrastructure projects. This was disputed by Warren and others, who put the onus on the county. In order to help clear things up, Joan Barilla and Mark Ruzzin, the county liaisons to the LID, will meet with the county attorney to discuss the matter later this month.
The meeting wound down with a few odds and ends, including a tentative August date for the annual meeting between the LID board and the county commissioners; a discussion about updating the Strategic Plan during the fall; and an update on the county’s burdensome new financial reimbursement system.
The Committee will meet next at 7 p.m. on June 4 at the Mountain View Fire Station.