A Lakeview Town Council work session was held Tuesday, Oct. 29 to discuss with members of Lakeview Community Partnership (LCP) the potential of partial funding for the hire of an executive director.
LCP is seeking $25,000 as a one-time payment from the Town of Lakeview via funds accumulated from the Oregon State Transient Lodging Tax as part of several funding sources to seek out a full-time executive director for the organization. Formed five years ago under the Oregon Main Street model, the collective of local residents working to improve and promote downtown Lakeview has to date been operated wholly by volunteers and have reached the point where a full-time position is needed.
Ann Logan, president of LCP, was the first to address the council, detailing accomplishments to date and highlighting priorities going forward following a recent brainstorming session. Logan explained that a partnership group has been formed, not just encompassing LCP but others as well with similar interests of promoting regional tourism and improving amenities in the area. That partnership group needs a full-time overseer to handle grant-writing, collaboration among partners, and maintaining a clear vision moving forward with goals.
“LCP and the partner group want to work with the town,” explained Logan. “It is our vision, and hopefully yours too. Your partnering with us financially will go a long ways to leverage grants.”
The proposal from LCP for one-time Lodging Tax funding is to be lumped with additional funds sought from the Oregon Community Foundation and Ford Family Foundation, as well as funding from LCP’s coffers as well, to support strategic planning efforts and salary for an executive director for one year. During that first year it is expected that funding would be secured for the salary position thereafter through grants.
LCP and its partners have accomplished much in the five years since the group’s initial launch. Rural tourism promotion, business-owner assistance in improving buildings and facades, and historic education have been key areas of focus; but the biggest accomplishment has been the acquisition and reopening of the historic Alger Theater. A statue honoring western heritage was also recently dedicated in downtown Lakeview.
“We are in a place now if we don’t have a director in position to help, we can’t sustain it the way we do now because we are all volunteers,” said Ginger Casto. “We have to have some way to shore up what is going on, there is momentum through the rural tourism studio and we need a plan for downtown. The partners need your partnership to move forward with much of this. I think this is the first time in many years all of the downtown businesses are on the same page, but we need your help to get going. We are already on the list for grants to get the Alger and other buildings on the national historic register.”
While council members showed support for the partnership’s overarching efforts, concerns were expressed that lodging tax funds are intended to fund projects promoting tourism, not positions. Providing funds, even as a one-time request, could set a precedent for funds being utilized for areas other than their intended purpose.
As at a work session no formal decision can be made, Town Council is expected to vote on the request at their next scheduled regular session, slated for Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 4 p.m.