Editorial: Old Town merchants can best advance their cause by being part of TVR process

There has been a cry for change with Cottonwood’s Thunder Valley Rally and the 2017 edition of this gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts has answered that call.

Certainly, it will not represent the kind of change that the most adamant opponents of TVR seek, but it represents movement in a new direction, a partial change of venue and the most important ingredient to any meaningful democratic process: compromise.

Tuesday, the Cottonwood City Council – in a split vote – agreed to continue Thunder Valley Rally for another year with one notable difference. While the daytime motorcycle-centric activities will continue to be in Old Town Cottonwood, the evening concerts will have a new home at Riverfront Park.

The city council’s decision was based on a recommendation from the grassroots Thunder Valley Rally Committee. It bears emphasis that the TVR Committee is not an arm of the city government. Its membership is not decided by the city council, nor the administrative branch of city government.

Because TVR is partially city-funded, the committee does coordinate with city staff, the parks commission and city council. Beyond that, it’s the TVR Committee – with the help of the city – that is neck-deep in the planning and organizing that makes an event like Thunder Valley Rally possible.

Because of its grassroots nature, the TVR Committee always will need new members who have interest and expertise in special event planning, and an affinity to the types of activities geared toward the motorcycle community. It’s also important to emphasize that the TVR Committee wants the voice of Old Town Cottonwood merchants represented.

Currently, there are some 20 members on the TVR Committee and only three are Old Town merchants. As to why there is not more representation from Old Town business owners, the city’s recreation services supervisor, Hezekiah Allen, says, “That invite has gone out numerous times, even to the point of asking that certain members of the Old Town Association attend all meetings of the Thunder Valley Rally Committee.”

And how was that invitation received? “They didn’t show,” Allen explained.

Ironically, it’s these very Old Town merchants who have made the biggest fuss about this event. With the exception of Old Town Frame Co. owner Trevor Gottschalk, none have come forward with any kind of plan that represents a step toward compromise.

As of this week, it’s been decided that a modified Thunder Valley Rally will continue on for another year whether the merchants in Old Town like it or not. As the community moves forward with this event, those same merchants will best advance their cause by being part of the process instead of an outside voice of dissent.

It’s time for Old Town business owners to stop being heavy on complaints, and short on solutions.

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