YOLO SUN NEWS REPORT :
Historic Woodland Downtown Business Association (HWDBA) convened its monthly meeting at 6 p.m. on August 14, 2008, at Blue Wing Gallery (405 Main St.), where Al and Sandy Elby provided various refreshments nearby a long table amidst their current art exhibits. More than twenty-five persons attended, and a second table was needed to seat everyone.
Anita Long, owner of the House Dresser, an antique store at 617 Main Street and a 15 year member of the downtown business community, acted as chairperson for this meeting and prior meetings.
______ Renovation Award Presented ______
At the outset, Preston Heffernan, owner of the building which houses Beehive Quilts ( 535 Main St.), site of HWDBA’s previous meeting, was presented with a framed Certificate of Appreciation from the group, for his renovation work on this structure. Long and narrow, it was for many years the location of a bar.
Heffernan renovated this building’s facade and interior, installing custom signage for his tenant, whom he credits for instilling his confidence in the eventual, successful outcome of this project. This feeling was mutual, as tenants Peggy and Gil Robles had nominated Heffernan for this HWDBA award. These relations between property owner and tenant displayed a seemingly ideal nature, a model of success for full renovation and renewed occupancy of a downtown building.
Heffernan also credits the Woodland Redevelopment Agency’s Facade Improvement Program, whereby property owners may receive matching funds for restoration / renovation up to a combined total of $60,000. “Those funds go a long way toward renovating a building,” expressed Mr. Heffernan, who encouraged other property owners to pursue such a course.
______ Stroll Through History Event ______
A representative of Woodland’s Stroll Through History event on Saturday, September 6, appeared before the group for an update. Advertising staff from the Davis Enterprise was also present, to announce that newspaper’s publishing of a modest insert pertaining to this event, and to offer ad space to HWDBA members.
Many members of the group volunteered to assist the Stroll Through History event, regarding various related chores. Some members stated a willingness to help with particular aspects of the event, such a arranging the doll-house exhibit, while others signed up with Tori Duke, owner and manager of Savory Cafe (722 Main St.), who is organizing a downtown clean-up effort for Tuesday morning, Sept. 2 at 7 a.m., with Savory Cafe providing coffee.
Through one means or another, it was resolved, relevant sidewalks will be ‘power-washed’ to prepare them for the Stroll event, which will as usual be based in Heritage Plaza, at the intersection of Main and Second Streets.
Street vendors are being advised to open at 8 a.m. on September 6. Since this is a single day event which doesn’t operate with a large advertising budget, such vendors are expected to be limited in number.
______ Renovation of Capital Hotel Building ______
Pilot Properties, owner of the Capital Saloon and Hotel building (601 – 605 Main St.) which during recent years is being extensively restored and renovated, was present to announce that tours of this edifice would be conducted between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.during the Stroll event, and that it would host an historical exhibit.
Apparently, an expected arrangement has dissolved, whereby Tazina Bistro (614 Main St.) would have opened a second restaurant across Main Street, within the Capital Saloon and Hotel building. Owners of Pilot Properties are now requesting imaginative assistance and references toward discovering potential tenants. Such help would be appreciated, as they have planned to open such a restaurant before year’s end.
______ Halloween Event Planned ______
Halloween is another upcoming event that received a thorough discussion by HWDBA. For the past fifteen years, downtown merchants have hosted a children’s ‘trick-or-treat’ tour during the afternoon (3 p.m. to 5 p.m.). Costume contests are featured, judged by the fire and police chiefs and a member of the city council.
These contests are divided into three catagories according to age: up to 3 years, 4 to 7 years, and 8 to 12 years. Prize-bags assembled by downtown merchants will be awarded.
During recent years, this downtown Halloween event has attracted between 1200 and 1400 children, plus their parent(s). Rather than using a chalk-line type of sidewalk guide, it was decided to use balloons this year as signals of those merchants who are participating.
Experience from last year allegedly led Woodland’s police chief to remark during that event that he would, “Close Main Street,” for this year’s Halloween tour. Several members of the downtown group wondered whether he would recall that determination. It was also claimed by a member of the group that the City’s police force is currently short-staffed by seven officers, which may influence such matters.
The answer to this question and others will be forthcoming at a meeting between representatives of HWDBA and the City, on September 3, 2008, concerning planning and preparations for downtown events occurring on both Halloweeen and Christmas.
______ “First Fridays” Art Tour Reviewed ______
Monthly “First Fridays,” HWDBA’s latest (and expanded) art tour, was discussed at some length. One suggested improvement was the creation of a tour map for these events, which is both convenient and conducive to successful promotion. Yolo Sun casually estimated about two hundred participants within this recent tour.
Owners of Beehive Quilts described their store as being “filled,” since a quilt-making class was being held, combined with visits from persons on the art tour. An owner of Main Street Antiques (526 – 528 Main St.) related that the store had made sales during the late-hours event (6 p.m.to 9 p.m.).
An owner of Another Antique Store (606 Main St.), Ed Shelley, reported that about 25 Woodlanders stopped by to visit, while Savory Cafe served about 50 dinners, with five staff on hand, which failed to cover expenses; but owner / manager Tori Duke said that, “We all had a blast,” and expressed optimism about increasing attendance for future art tours.
Fat Cat Cafe’s (317 Second St.) owner, Edna Bohon, and her husband Jim described a slow start, but eventually around 65 tourers put them about monetarily even on their provision of a wine and food tasting, costing only 5 dollars. It was also reported that Yolo Gold & Silver (619 Main St.) was open during the tour and pleased with this experience.
______ Flower-Baskets and Street-Planters Projects ______
Carla Bohon of Fat Cat Cafe reported on HWDBA’s flower-baskets-on-street-poles project. The concept is designed to help create a constant impression that, “Something is happening in the downtown,” she said. Carla contaced several vendors for relevant equipment and expertise, ascertaining that each unit would cost about $250 and require several hundred dollars to annually maintain. There are currently at least 33 street poles on Main Street, with a few more to come, she related.
The best vendor from which to procure these flower-baskets, Carla has determined, would be a company located in Vernal, Utah, a community of around 7,000 persons (and site of a national monument and museum involving excavation of dinosaur-fossils, – a fascinating aspect of paleontology) that features such a flower-basket element within its municipal tourism program.
Carla said that correspondence would soon be sent from the City of Vernal to the City of Woodland, concerning the subject of Vernal’s experience with these flower-baskets.
Dialogue was held on whether to approach the city for what former mayor Dave Flory referred to as the capital-cost part of the project (the baskets, themselves), while HWDBA attended to maintenance (planting and watering). The decision was made to leave proposals for municipal funds (likely from community development block-grants, etc.) to await another occasion, and to discover project sponsorship from among HWDBA members.
Plaques associated with sponsorship would be individually attached to these flower-baskets, as a form of compensation, it was decided. Various methods of flower-basket maintenance and watering were briefly discussed and evaluated, with more investigation to follow. Also resolved was the “kick-off” time for this project, around the first day of Spring, 2009, to take advantage of a full season of flowers.
Meanwhile, Carla is advancing a preliminary project of creating a planting and maintenance program for existing street-planters along Main Street, which are presently either empty of filled with something other than flowers. There are now about fifteen such street-planters, according to Carla, while a few of them have been removed over the years by the city, and may be in storage.
Watering systems are now being examined by Carla, for use on these existing street-planters, and sponsorship is being elicited at the rate of $125 per year for each one. It is hoped that these planters may receive flowers prior to the Stroll Through History event, on Saturday, September 6.
______ Other Items of Interest ______
Undesirable downtown decoration in the form of graffiti was briefly noted, with encouragement to submit photos of such vandalism to law enforcement authorities, since this practice may help to build criminal cases against its perpetrators.
Hospice Shop’s (607 Main St.) manager was happy to report that despite losing money (~ $10,000) during the previous year, this store would remain open for another year with hopes by its board of directors that business improves. Another prominent vacancy in the downtown is certainly not desirable (in this case the former Breit’s building, with an adjoining vacancy in the former Music Store).
Hospice Shop’s manager has often described a serious lack of casual foot-traffic along Main Street – as not producing enough spontaneous customers – to be discouraging; but indicates that the store is slowly attracting increasing customers, intending specific visits.
Dave Flory said that he expects Woodland’s Mayor, Skip Davies, will attend HWDBA’s next meeting, which will occur at 6 p.m. on September 11, 2008, at Artists Studio Gallery, located at 1020 Lincoln Street.