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Feb-14-2007 14:31printcomments

Salem Downtown Association Has Been Dissolved

Reduction of funding has ceased the operation of the Salem Downtown Association after 35 years.

downtown Salem Oregon
Downtown Salem skybridge. Salem-News.com

(SALEM) - The Board of Directors of the Salem Downtown Association (SDA) voted Wednesday, February 7th, to dissolve the organization and support the creation of a new Downtown Business Improvement District.

“For 35 years the SDA and its members have led Downtown revitalization and promotional efforts. Now it is now time for the Steering Committee to create the organization that has the support and financial wherewithal to continue the mission our predecessors began in 1972,” said SDA President Cori Frauendiener.

The SDA was founded as a non-profit merchants' organization in 1972 to promote Downtown Salem as a healthy, vibrant business environment dedicated to shopping, living, working and entertainment.

Throughout much of its history, the SDA received a large share of its funding from the parking tax revenue paid by downtown businesses to the City of Salem, which in turn was administered by a “Parking Board” and other entities.

In 1999 the City began to reduce funding to the SDA, largely due to escalating maintenance costs of the Downtown parking structures. City support for the SDA declined from $130,000 a year in 1999 to $7,000 in 2006.

“Under these conditions it has become impossible for the SDA to perform its mission,” said Frauendiener. “It became clear to our board that a new organization with a sustainable funding source is needed to guide the continued revitalization and promotion of our very special Downtown.

“The Board of Directors fully supports efforts by Downtown business and property owners to create a Downtown Improvement District that would continue the existing work and expand the capacity of the new organization with greater strength, staffing and responsibilities.

“While the SDA Board regrets the reduction of the SDA's funding and ability to continue operations, the Board is excited by the commitment of many individuals, businesses, organizations and the City of Salem to the vitality of our downtown and hopes this will turn into an opportunity to build on past successes.

“Looking at Salem’s Conference Center, improvements to Front Street, Riverfront Park, and the emerging Central Business District housing developments, the Board expects a great future for Downtown Salem.

“From Summer-in-the-City to First Wednesday, from The Bite and World Beat Festival to the Farmers’ Market, the Salem Downtown Association has worked hard to promote the importance of downtown as an essential aspect of the identity, livability and economic vitality of our community."

The association has also been at the forefront of parking issues, the development of downtown housing, and streetscape improvements, as well as always marketing our downtown.

Tim Duffy, co-chair of First Wednesday, commented, “Almost from its inception, First Wednesday has benefited from SDA’s organizational umbrella and support. First Wednesday will continue to grow and flourish as downtown continues to develop its role as the cultural and artistic hub of our community. We appreciate SDA’s leadership over the past 30 years and we recognize its contribution to our downtown success story.”




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Curmudgeon February 15, 2007 2:07 am (Pacific time)

I guess I fail to see why we should have the SDA or any successor organization. The SDA has presided over 35 years of decline of the downtown area. Rather than being proud of it's accomplishments, as President Cori Frauendiener seems to be, they should be ashamed that they have done such a miserable job while spending several million dollars of public funds. I don't wonder that the City has continuously reduced their funding. I'm sure the SDA will blame their lack of effectiveness on the reduced funding. But even in the early years, when their funding was high, their effectiveness was meager to non-existent. Downtown Salem has seen a steady, continuous decline for at least those 35 years. Anyone who believes that SDA or any other organization can bring back the glory days of downtown Salem is living in a fantasy world. The Salem/Keizer metro area has a population approaching 200,000 people. There is no way the downtown area could ever service that many people, even if they were all inclined to patronize downtown. Very few people live downtown, and even if housing were greatly expanded in the downtown area it will never accommodate the number of residents required to support the businesses there. They will always have to rely on people from the suburban areas for support. Why should suburban residents be expected to drive 6-10 miles to downtown and contend with the parking issues and limited merchants available there, when they can find more merchants and services within 2-3 miles of home without the parking issues? The SDA, and any successor organization, is and has been fighting a battle they can never win. Yet they continue to delude themselves that they can. These people need to get a grip on reality. If the downtown businesses are so confident that downtown can be revitalized, let them spend their own funds to make their point, because 35 years of public funds seem to have proven them wrong. It's time for the public tit to dry up.


Allen February 14, 2007 3:29 pm (Pacific time)

Yet another sad sign of our society degrading into a third world cesspool. A tax supported Local Improvement District won't cure what ails Salem as government is just more of the same poison. Chalk it up to Blindly Embracing Diversity without first questioning its value and/or cost. It saddens me to know my grandchildren won't know the life that I have enjoyed and that traded away by those driven by greed and/or with shallow vision. Any who doubt my words only need to read a newspaper headline of just ten years ago. We have come a long way baby and its been a bad trip! I cry!

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