Are Fall Ride dances worth the cost?
Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2002 12:50 pm
There’s been some heated discussion lately if it’s worth it to pay a recommended $30,000 – $40,000 for the extra police protection, emergency services costs and miscellaneous expenses in order to have the two street dances held on Wisconsin Avenue during the Tomahawk Fall Ride weekend in September.<p>The need for 30 additional officers as recommended by Chief of Police Don Johnson is being questioned by those who have been asked to pick up the tab, which is just over $21,000.<p>What we haven’t heard yet are questions from members of the city’s Licensing and Permits Committee regarding the numbers. They’ve approved the permit in concept, and the mayor has said the Fall Ride event will continue to happen in Tomahawk, but neither have required Johnson to reach a reasonable compromise with the downtown event organizers.<p>We’ve heard over the past year from people who have said that there hasn’t been significant problems with the Fall Ride event in prior years so why do we need to go from 38 officers assigned last year to 68 officers to help cover this event in 2002?<p>Before 1997, there were no street dances keeping over 10,000 people in the downtown area. With the exception of the bonfire Friday night, the SARA Park events ended at 6 p.m. on Saturday, leaving Fall Ride enthusiasts to find fun elsewhere. Some bikers stayed at local establishments and some, with longer drive times to reach their nightly accommodations, left town early and gathered with friends at their campsites, or at bars closer to where they were staying.<p>We think the street dances as one of the highlights of the Fall Ride are an important part of the weekend. Aside from giving the visitors something to do while they’re here, the business aspect remains that it’s a huge money making event that helps to pull many tourism-based businesses here through lean winter months. It’s a fact that, from the time a purchase is made, a single dollar changes hands four to seven times in a community. <p>Very conservatively, if each of 20,000 visitors spends $600 while they’re in the area, do the math. That’s a $48 million positive economic impact. <p>We estimated that between $12-18 million is brought into this community as a result of this event. If 60 percent of each dollar spent with local businesses stays here and helps pay for services, that means that $7.2 million helps to pay for streets, sanitary sewer and water services and the like. And the spending doesn’t stop at the corporate city limits, but positively affects businesses and residents in a five county area.<p>It has been explained that the 30 officers are not just for the downtown area, but to increase numbers here in order to allow county deputies to better cover the county, rather than being assigned to duties in and around Tomahawk. <p>Sixty-eight sounds like a large number of officers. A majority of those business owners who are expected to foot the bill don’t seem to be convinced of the need to almost double police coverage and, without proper justification, we’re not convinced either. <p>Would potential investors support it if the numbers were explained more clearly? How many shifts, how many officers will be in the corporate city limits, and how many would be assigned for patrol of the county? What would the cost be without the street dances? We think those questions have not yet been answered clearly enough.<p>If a compromise cannot be reached, we believe raising the $30,000-plus this year is a stretch, even if businesses band together and contribute the $100 - $300, or more, that they’ve been asked to throw in the kitty. <p>Maybe the Fall Ride Advisory Committee might want to re-think the logic behind having two dances this year. If the street dances were scaled back to one dance this year, the policing costs would be cut in half. The committee could evaluate the results and use them in planning for the 2003 Fall Ride.<p>April 16, the Fall Ride Advisory Committee goes to the City of Tomahawk Licensing and Permits Committee to report if they gained enough monetary support to get the events permit, which will have a contingency attached to it that the city will have the money in hand by July 15.<p>There’s an old saying, “If you wanna play, you gotta pay.” It appears there’s a lot of truth to that.<p>We think the downtown activities, including the street dances, are an important part of the Fall Ride weekend and must be conducted in a safe manner. If satellite activities of the Fall Ride become unsafe, the original fundraising event for the Muscular Dystrophy Association is in jeopardy.<p>It’s public knowledge that other surrounding cities have been courting the Fall Ride committee, trying to get the event moved to their location by promising to provide whatever is needed.<p>Has the Fall Ride gone on so long that people have forgotten what it means to Tomahawk and the surrounding area? It’s clear to us that a compromise has to be reached in order to keep the Fall Ride and the community street dances in Tomahawk and make them safe events.<p>Like it or not, this event has too large of an economic impact on this city, community and county for the City of Tomahawk Licensing and Permits Committee, the Fall Ride Advisory Committee and Chief Johnson to not work together and risk losing the Fall Ride and activities related to it.<p>[ April 03, 2002: Message edited by: Webmaster ]</p>