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Salem Downtown Association Has Been DissolvedSalem-News.com
Reduction of funding has ceased the operation of the Salem Downtown Association after 35 years.
(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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