Letter to the editor: Edmonds BID plan for spending merchants’ money ‘mystifying’

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Dear Editor:

The City of Edmonds has a relatively new “Advisory Board” which is called the Edmonds Business Improvement District (EDBID). This board assesses businesses within the downtown boundary area (which they determined) a certain amount of money based on square footage. This new entity was formed with the idea that they will be able to bring more people to Edmonds through different avenues such as advertising, improved parking and more garbage cans.

This idea is all fine and good except for a few problems. To begin, I believe we already have several associations such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Edmonds Merchants Association (DEMA), the Economic Development Commission to just name a few. Also, the way in which the EDBID proposes to spend our money is mystifying. For example, they are going to spend $50,000 on brand identity and marketing for the BID itself and just $5,000 on appearance and environment!

I am personally upset with the way the EDBID is planning to spend our hard earned dollars. Do we really need another association telling us what to do and how to do it?

The following information is taken directly off the EDBID website:

In accordance with the scope of work in Ordinance 3909, budgeted expenditures for the 2014 operating year of the EDBID will be as follows:

District Association Administration $10,000

District Association Insurance & Licensing $3,000

Marketing & Branding/Identity $50,000

Member Engagement and Outreach $5,000

Professional Business Resources $12,000

Appearance & Environment $5,000

TOTAL 2014 REVENUE $85,000

Sincerely,

Angela Wolf, MA

 

11 COMMENTS

  1. Your letter is so perfectly timed, Angela. The Annual Member Meeting for the EDBID is April 30th at 7pm at the Library’s Plaza Room. In addition to updates from 2013 to date (including that big budget item regarding the branding and identity of the EDBID), we will be looking at plans for the 2015 budget. The Advisory Board has twice monthly meetings – the 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month – join us! We want more member participation, ideas, and energy. Maybe your letter will help get more people involved.

    And yes, to address your question about our budget $50,000 is a lot of money. I know I never take that lightly. The advisory board is a dedicated group of volunteers who have invested a tremendous amount of time and good will to start building the EDBID foundation. Spending very little money in 2013 to write workplans, bylaws, create a 501c3 so we can apply for grants and leverage our contributions, etc.

    No business or organization opens its doors without a brand and a logo, though. So we have hired an incredibly talented firm (after an rigorous RFP and interview process), Turnstyle Studio, to do that for us.

    There are so many other things I’d love to address regarding your letter – and I really do appreciate it and your concerns. I’m sure there are others who are wondering what this “Advisory Board” has been up to.

    So join us! Come to the member meeting; come to a board meeting. I can only speak for myself – as this is not an official board communication – but we are good intentioned volunteers who have tried to communicate what we have been working on and get more members involved.

    Pam Stuller
    EDBID Advisory Board VP
    Walnut Street Coffee

    p.s. the location for our Board Meetings are held in the Waterworks Building, 123 2nd Ave S, at 8am. Our next meeting is April 24th.

  2. In addition to our standing meeting on 4/24 mentioned above, just yesterday the advisory board added – and sent out public notification – for a meeting for Monday, 4/14, at 8am in the Waterworks Building (see address above). The agenda will include continued discussion and voting on a new name for the organization (as presented at our 4/10 meeting), as well as committee reports. We’d love to see you there.

  3. Looks like somebody is making a whole lot of $$$$$, kinda like the 16 million $$$$ of Federal grants that are :” in the bucket” here in this little town of 39,000 with projects the citizens don’t actually want that appear to make some people obscene amounts of money and/or their friends, whoever. The Sunset Project comes to mind with 1.2 $$$$ million already spent and we have nothing but talk and somebody making that money (the 1.2 million$$$) and COUNTING.

    The $50,000 for “marketing and branding identity” is obscene……..Here, I thought it was all about location here at this TOWN ON THE SEA!…..the water, the beaches, the mountains, …..we’re RIGHT HERE, right ON IT……..

    Hey, I’m from a big metropolitan city…..I’ve never seen so many people making so much money off of a little town of 39,000…..Can you just take the $$$$ and FIX the streets and sidewalks here!…..Better spent …..There are more foundations, commissions, advisory boards, yada yada here, and more people USING the city to MAKE MONEY…….committee reports, meetings, yada yada…..Sheesh!

    “create a 5013c so we can apply for grants and leverage our contributions” …….

    Federal Grants are NEED based………There is a problem when I hear someone talking about “leverage” for obtaining more $$$ from FEDERAL grants that are for NEED! I think there are a whole lot of people here that don’t understand FEDERAL LAW and the criteria for getting Federal Grants which are NEED based.

    • Tere,

      Right on fact.

      It is rather pondering, how the Edmonds City Council chose to waste vast amounts of time, and potentially tax-payer based revenue to “research” the “Sunset walk” project.

      For interesting facts, see the Edmonds Beacon (pg. 10 4/3/2014) where the Mayor stated “we should prepare ourselves to refund whatever money we have spent”. Taxpayers of Edmonds should be thrilled, I mean ecstatic!, as they will only need to repay the money wasted to date, $ 70,000.00, as stated in the article.

      Maybe with more vision, logically applied, the project should have never been entertained due to the fact the proposed “Sunset walk” would be located on property owned by someone else, i.e.- Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. The City of Edmonds does not, and never did own the property needed for the project.

      In reality it’s only $ 70,000.00, chump change in the eyes of the Edmonds City Council, at least when it’s not coming from their personal bank account. Good stewards of the civic trust?, you decide. It’s always easy to waste other peoples money.

      This is just one more example of a City Council out of touch with money, out of touch with reality, and their civic responsibility. Although, Councilwoman Joan Bloom did state she might be open to discussing terminating the project. To Councilwoman Bloom: “so shines a good deed… in a weary World”.

      $ 70,000 would have gone a long way to fix the terrible sidewalks in the downtown Edmonds core, although that would take a considerable amount of vision, in comparison to wanting to build something on someone else’s property. Which would have been more logical, and a greater benefit to the people of Edmonds? Apparently too complex for the City Council. There are currently plenty of places along the water in Edmonds…to watch the sunset!

  4. Edmonds Downtown Business Improvement District……..How ’bout paying to get the flowers and hanging baskets BACK!! I would say THAT would be a business improvement at the top of the list. The flowers being GONE from Edmonds is noticed by many

  5. Tere, not to worry. The baskets are returning soon. They are on the same schedule as they have been in the past. Floretum Garden club helps the city horticulturists plant the baskets in late April. They will be hung in early June and stay up until the fall when colder weather returns. The corners are being planted as you speak with perennials. The annual flowers will be planted in early May on the corners in the downtown core. The April and May flowers are annuals which do not thrive in our colder season.
    We all miss them when they are taken down. But we are fortunate that there are many perennials, bulbs and shrubs which give us enjoyment in the cooler months. Look for the Floretum Garden Club members working on the corners in early May. They help our great city horticulturists who plan for the beauty of our city.

  6. Tere, Many businesses sponsor a flower basket or street corner etc. Yes I am a business owner and between schools ,church and charity fund raisers and the flower program etc not exactly lining my pockets.. Oh my annuals took a vacation over the winter and will be back soon too. I would like to THANK the volunteer EDBID advisory board for there hard work and time

  7. This is ridiculous. Browbeating the BID because you have to pay $450 or $350 or whatever is ridiculous. Getting involved is better. Promoting a vibrant downtown (and all of Edmonds) is important. Discounting the work that volunteers are doing without proposing solutions – ridiculous.

    What is mystifying to me is that small business owners do not forego vendor discounts, pressuring suppliers for the best price, or advertising and brand recognition. They must do those things to compete – why should it be any different for the City of Edmonds – it’s not.

    1. Edmonds needs to promote more pedestrian friendly economic zones – hence the reason I support the Five Corners, 212th, and Sunset walkway improvements. This will support those businesses in Edmonds – more foot traffic means more sales. More sales means more money in your pocket. More sales means more money in Edmonds pocket.

    2. Brand Recognition is EXTREMELY important – just ask Las Vegas – they don’t market to “let’s park our car and watch the sunset” – Edmonds needs to attract viable long term economic development – and branding the City is what needs to be done.

    3. Sidewalks, roads, streets, striping, TCD’s etc – they have a budget line item – if you want those fixed, address them specifically to those line items – saying the BID, the Chamber, the Economic Development Commission should fix them is sort of like saying – well, the sidewalks in front of my business are really bad, maybe I should pay to fix them – it is not their mission – and from waht I see, the City of Edmonds does a pretty good job of keeping up with their projects (once they finally get through Council)

    It would be fine and good if we had sand in Edmonds in which to place our heads – and let the City just continue along the path of “No”, “Let’s think about it”, “Perhaps”, and “We need to hire a counselor to get along” – but that is not the right approach. Proposing viable solutions with your anger is better.

    My solutions are clear:

    1. Move to design phases for 212th, Sunset, and Five Corners.
    2. Brand the City of Edmonds and actually welcome economic development (the Hot Diggity Dog guy never knew what he was in for…)
    3. ALL of Edmonds is important – from the median income zone of $20,000 per year along 99 to the $156,000 median income along Sunset and Olympic View – all of it. Creating a city where ALL of the residents (not just Sunset or the six or seven folks who routinely complain here) should always be the goal.
    4. Voting in Edmonds is extremely important. The way we change the City is to change the Council. I, for one, hate to say it, but I suspect I will be aggressively advocating for different Council Members in the upcoming election – because “No” just does not cut it.

    I get a kick out of listening the millions and millions and millions of dollars that gets thrown out there – the only millions that are getting wasted are the millions of dollars we spend to listen to people complain and paralyzing the Council because Millions and Millions and Millions are getting spent – sometimes it takes millions to make millions.

    I have yet to see viable alternatives – build five corners and 212th street improvements in a holistic way, develop a community where mid-sized anchor companies will take advantage of Harbor Square, preserve the downtown feel, and encompass all of Edmonds in our thought process – not just those places within walking distance of your front door.

    Happy Tuesday!

  8. We pay taxes in this city, and the very least we should be able to expect are safe and up to date streets and sidewalks………

    ..;…..39,000 residents! Do your research and look at what was said years ago in the DEVELOPMENT of Harbor Square, DEVELOPMENT of all the condos, etc…….. …….Same thing you’re saying now…….Same thing with Five Corners. It doesn’t take much research here to see all those that have conflicts of interest and wish to continue this same old way of doing business

    This is a small town on the water……..

    That IS WHY people come to Edmonds……The small town feeling.

    We really don’t want Edmonds to turn into what Kirkland has become. …….what Ballard is becoming. We have NEW neighbors that just moved to Edmonds because their Kirkland is so DEVELOPED now…..The DEVELOPMENT that has been done in the past 30+ years is part of the problem and you’re suggesting more of the same. ……This is old school thinking…….A lot of people here with conflicts of interest in regards to making $$$ off of this small town. That is quite obvious………doesn’t take much research to connect all of the dots

    I don’t think we need to look to LAS VEGAS or Chicago as a gauge for what kind of city we wish to be and we also don’t want to be the kind of city that has to cheat to get grants and Federal funds……There is a word for that

  9. Old School? Smart and transparent development that creates a contiguous Edmonds? Hey, I live near all of the drug houses you mention, and I want a smarter Five Corners – I want a smarter 99, and I want a smarter Sunset – I don’t want congestion – hence TCD proposals. I don’t want a Ballard – hence a smart plan to create a contiguous Edmonds.

    I am not making a nickel off of caring for this town, but I am also willing to call out “old ways” of thinking – I have broad shoulders and don’t mind the heat, but if we keep letting Edmonds go the way of the “flat earthers” – we get a fishing village with a coal train problem. That may be good for the folks in the Bowl, but it does absolutely nothing to improve the quality of life of the other 36,000 people who live outside of the Bowl.

    Smart economic development is why I am fired up – and it gets a little old for folks to just keep saying No –

    I should not respond to your comments, but I am still waiting on proof that pockets are being lined. I am going on my evening walk, and maybe I will find one of those drug houses or run into one of the crazies from 99….

  10. Angela – bravo for speaking your mind on the BID. I run a small therapy practice in downtown Edmonds and pay my BID “assessments” regularly. I do not, however, feel that I should be mandated to do so. I did not have a choice in the matter and the BID did not exist when I chose my physical location. My opinion is that certain businesses may benefit greatly from the BID and I encourage them to do so……but I do not feel all businesses do and they should be allowed to “opt out”.

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