Thunder Valley Rally is moving.
Cottonwood City Council voted 4-2 to continue its relationship with TVR under an alternate plan presented by the TVR Committee on Feb. 7.
The committee’s alternate plan, often portrayed as a compromise, was to move the main music stages to Riverfront Park, while only closing Main Street in Old Town for a few yet-to-be-determined hours in the afternoon.
Mayor Tim Elinski and Vice Mayor Ruben Jauregui voted against the measure, while Councilwoman Tosca Henry abstained.
The vote to pursue the alternate plan was one of three options once the council decided to vote on TVR. Elinski leaned toward ending the financial relationship with the event, stating his hesitancy to invest in it.
There was also the option to keep the event as is — located entirely on Main Street in Old Town, closing the road.
“Right now, it’s a huge burden to taxpayers,” Elinski said.
Last fiscal year, 2015-16, the event cost the city a net $108,000, up from $55,000 in 2014-15 and $28,000 in 2013-14. The prior five-year cost of the event is $271,000. According to Administrative Services General Manager Rudy Rodriguez, the estimated cost to the city for 2017 under the committee plan will be around $40,000. Throughout the presentation, numbers between $36,000 and $44,000 were mentioned.
The argument for the event as a revenue source was also made. Revenue was up in 2015-16, at $66,150, compared to $3,696 in 2014-15. This does not include any bed or sales taxes indirectly increased by the event. The committee and several members of the public claimed that TVR increases sales and lodging numbers.
Henry stated the reason for her abstention was a lack of time to consider the alternate proposal. This was the first time this plan was presented to council. Prior to the vote, Jauregui also expressed his wish for a work session, and the option to table the matter was briefly floated.
Henry said that the “city is having its feet held to the fire to have a vote,” but in the end it was decided that action was needed by council. Councilwoman Deb Althouse — one of the council members to introduce the committee’s plan to the agenda — said that without a decision as to direction now, the planning time frame would begin to fall apart.
The committee’s presentation hit confrontation before it began as council decided on rules for the public speaking section of the item. Members of the public were being limited to three minutes each with the exception of the committee as well as a separate alternate plan presented by Trevor Gottschalk, an Old Town business owner.
Althouse took exception to Gottschalk’s exemption, arguing that TVR had been put on the agenda specifically to hear about the committee’s plan. Henry noted that the agenda didn’t specifically mention any one presentation or the committee and both were allowed to explain the details of their plans.
The committee plan, presented by Rose Ortiz-Unruh, will keep Main Street closed during the afternoon, from hours that varied throughout the presentation beginning roughly at 1 p.m. and lasting until 4 to 7 p.m.
This lack of specificity was criticized by Henry as one of the reasons more time was needed to discuss the issue.
Motorcycle parking would be directed to both locations with paid parking still used on Main Street.
The liquor license was proposed to be sponsored by the Military Service Park, in turn bringing back money via liquor sales.
The shuttle would still run and likely be adjusted to run to the park from Old Town.
The vendor spaces would still be up in Old Town but there would also be spaces at Riverfront.
Although willing to move the stage to Riverfront Park this year, it was mentioned by the committee that ideally, the event would stay the same for at least a year or two.
Gottschalk’s plan was similar, but moved enough of the event to keep the street open entirely, only using one side for motorcycle parking.
During the call to the public several stated that this could be a safety issue, along with parking and speed bumps at Riverfront. One of the main reasons for his suggestion to move the event was a greater amount of space at the park.
The public’s opinions varied widely on what to do with the event but as several on council and city staff noted, the relative calm and respect on the issue was welcome.
Probably the harshest public back-and-forth came after a flower shop owner expressed her desire to move the event after poor sales and lack of access to her business last year. A woman who wanted the event to stay as is, or keep, promised her husband would buy her $100 in flowers this year.
In addition to safety concerns on the keep side of the public, the opportunity to minister, the need for branding an established place and the draw of a closed street for motorcyclists were all mentioned.
People who wanted the event moved, or canceled altogether, cited the potential for violent action in a confined space, the need for more room, recognition that the event may not work in the area and destruction of property.
The three-minute time limit hit a few in the public. Old Town restaurant owner Eric Jurisin was cut off just as he began to focus on TVR after providing background.
After public comment, Elinski warned that a vote to keep the city involved this year would only lead to the same process as that meeting to come up again in 2018.