Main Street’s funding request in jeopardy
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]
With the deadline looming to submit its budget for 2022, the Corydon Town Council was faced with a follow-up request from Main Street Corydon to include $50,000 to help keep the local organization on track to carry out its activities for the next year.
Jim Koerber, vice president of Main Street Corydon, told the council at its meeting last Tuesday evening that the group was looking for a response to the formal request made at the Aug. 12 council meeting.
“If we don’t get the full amount, we’ll have to look at options,” including what can be eliminated, Koerber said.
The $50,000 requested from the town accounts for 27% of Main Street’s budget.
Koerber said that while some events recently have been canceled due to COVID-19, the organization, which has one paid employee and dozens of volunteers, hopes to continue tried-and-true events from the past as well as some new ones.
Lester (Les) Rhoads, council president, said he didn’t realize until recently how much revenue the town lost from the county’s casino and the town has other financial requests, including $25,000 to finish installing a fence around Cedar Hill Cemetery.
“I’m told we don’t have (the money),” Rhoads said.
Later during the discussion, Clerk-Treasurer Treggie King said the town’s financial adviser didn’t say the town couldn’t give Main Street $50,000, but rather that would take away from the amount of money the town has to put up for matching grants, etc.
Jennie Capelle, owner of White House Candy Co., who also serves on the Harrison County Council, said, “We’ve all been hit by (loss of) riverboat money … If you don’t have Main Street, the businesses will shut down.”
“They’re already shutting down,” Rhoads said.
Capelle reminded the council it had just discussed the parking situation in downtown Corydon earlier in the meeting.
Rhoads said parking in the town “has been a problem for probably 50 years.”
For a time, parking was regulated by meters. Some time after the meters were removed, two-hour limitations were put in place; that was eliminated about five years ago.
It was suggested that larger signs indicating public parking lots be installed as well as signage directing people to those locations.
Rhoads said he recently went to several communities, including Salem, Paoli, Jasper and Huntingburg, which “all had some kind of two-hour parking” in place.
Angel Frizzell, Main Street Corydon’s lone paid employee, said they need to keep in mind tourists who come to town who likely would be parking for more than two hours.
There are some parking spaces in downtown that business owners pay $25 a month to have designated for their business only. However, two business owners, Bonnie Hayes and Abby Taylor, were recently denied purchasing a spot.
Councilmembers said they put a moratorium on reserved parking spots as they knew they would be addressing the parking issue in the near future.
The women, who were at the meeting, said they would welcome two-hour parking instead of having people parked in front of their businesses all day.
Rhoads said the town could regain seven parking spots along East Chestnut Street, between Capitol Avenue and Mulberry Street, with the revamping of the crosswalk between Bicentennial Park and Elm Street.
During discussion about enforcement of two-hour parking, Rhoads said Chief Marshal Matt Kitterman had suggested a $25 fine for violators.
The council unanimously approved implementing two-hour parking.
“I really think that this will help in front of your places,” Rhoads told Hayes and Taylor.
As part of the decision, the town will leave existing paid parking spots in place and will work on the fine ordinance.
“We’ll start on Chestnut Street,” Rhoads said.
During discussions about Main Street’s request, it was noted the town might not have to worry about a parking problem if businesses close.
“As a local business, we need the things Main Street does,” Capelle said.
Staple events put on by Main Street have included Light Up Corydon, Sweet Stroll and the Spring Wine Walk. For 2022, the organization plans to add First Friday’s Music in the Park for June, July and August, the return of the once popular Popcorn Festival and a music festival.
Frizzell said what her group is requesting is not out of the norm, rather Main Street organizations nationwide rely on subsidy from local government entities.
Gary Roberson, president of the local Main Street, said the town council has to decide if it wants to keep the momentum going that the organization provides or if it wants the town to become stagnant.
“I want you to look at the big picture,” he said.
Missi Bush-Sawtelle, who serves on Main Street’s executive committee, summed it up like this: “Who would be (the town’s) promotion committee/cheerleader if Main Street goes away?”
“I’d like to be able to do something … ” said Councilman Paul Hamann.
Councilman Doug Castetter said he’s “all for trying to get that money” for Main Street while the council works to be “better stewards of our money.”
In the wake of COVID, “we’re having to tighten our belts,” he added.
The first public hearing for the town’s 2022 budget is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m. at the town hall.