The CAPC is the subject of Board comments

By Rick Harvey RHarvey@cherryroad.com

With a light agenda that didn’t include any items requiring action, the Eureka Springs City Council spent much of its regular meeting Monday sharing opinions on various topics.

The city’s publicity and promotions commission has been a hot topic lately, especially since it hasn’t had a regular meeting with a quorum since June, days before the commissioners’ terms James DeVito and Carol Wright only expire on June 30.

There was a meeting in July, but after Commissioners Nick Roberts and Autumn Slane learned that Chairman Jeff Carter, Vice Chairman Patrick Burnett and Wright were not present and that DeVito would be leading the meeting, they chose to leave before the start of the meeting.

That meant there was no quorum for the unofficial meeting, at which DeVito announced it would be his last meeting after the sale of his longtime restaurant. The August meeting was also canceled with an explanation that some commissioners were on vacation.

PACE held a workshop on September 14, but Wright and Roberts were not present.

David Avanzino, co-owner of Wanderoo Lodge and a frequent attendee of CAPC meetings, spoke during public comments at Monday’s city council meeting, expressing concerns about the process for filling CAPC places after Mayor Butch Berry encouraged anyone interested in filling the expired two spots to apply.

“It’s interesting that CAPC is on the agenda, or vacancies are on the agenda,” Avanzino told the board. “As you all probably know, I received a PACE application for almost a year without review, without discussion, without a vote.

“So there are people trying to fill these vacancies at PACE, but they’re not even considered or discussed by PACE as far as we know.”

Avanzino went on to express his displeasure with CAPC, particularly the way it uses St. Petersburg, Florida-based company Paradise Marketing.

“I’m really tired of writing thousands of dollars every month for our CAPC taxes and not seeing anything to do with those dollars,” he said. “I haven’t seen any events promoted by the city. I haven’t seen any events promoted by the CAPC. When they are promoted by CAPC they are actually pictures of a phone that someone sends I guess [tourism director] Madison [Dawson]publish online.

“There are things that aren’t even in Eureka Springs that are posted on the PACE website for people to visit. I don’t see why we are paying all this money for Paradise when a majority of stakeholders and citizens do not see the results of this money poured into PACE.

Avanzino is running unopposed in the Nov. 8 general election for the council seat currently held by Roberts.

Board member Terry McClung expressed concern about PACE during the Board’s comments.

“I think they have to do something about vacancies as well,” McClung said. “I’m really upset they didn’t make those appointments.”

The CAPC was scheduled to hold a regular meeting on September 28, but as of 10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 27, the agenda had not been updated on the city’s website. The most recent agenda on the website is for the July meeting.

City Council member Harry Meyer, during his comments to council, responded to Avanzino’s comments regarding Paradise.

“Well, if a company writes big checks to CAPC, you see, obviously the ad works,” Meyer said.

PUBLIC CONTRIBUTION ENCOURAGED

The council also discussed I&I fees for irrigation meters and procedures for notifying applications to the Historic District Commission and the Planning Commission.

Other citizens spoke specifically about various projects in the city and how they are or are not notified effectively.

In the end, a majority of council members agreed, continue to encourage the public to attend all commission meetings and make their voices heard.

“Your voice matters and we take it seriously,” Berry said. “And I think the commissioners take them seriously too. But we have to get involved. If we’re not involved, there’s really not much we can do about it.

McClung agreed. “I think it’s important that CAPC tax collectors need — they have this vested interest in this because it’s their business that’s the bread and butter of this town here — that they need to attend these meetings and make their voices heard and ask questions and seek answers or make suggestions, whatever they need to be in there,” McClung said. “They were. They used to be very active and come to meetings and we always, you know, kept the tax base informed of what was going on. And I’m sure they probably still do. I don’t know because I haven’t participated in it for a few years.

“But it is important that tax collectors are involved with this tax authority. [The CAPC] is a separate entity. It is not a city-run commission as such. It’s under the protection of the city, but it’s independent, and they control those funds. So, get involved, go to the meetings. That’s the best way to do anything is to voice your concerns at this meeting and that way it can get in the press.

‘EXTREME VIRICITY’

Without going into many details, council member Melissa Greene used her council’s comments to express her frustration with recent social media posts which she said attacked “young people”, presumably employees of the city.

“The next thing I want to talk about is, I’ve talked about this before, it’s this extreme violence that’s on display in town and it’s on display so much on some of this social media and some of the meanness to our young people here, ” said Greene. “And these kids are educated, they’re smart, they’re strong, and they’ve just been beaten to death.

“And when I hear stuff like, well, they owned a house in Rogers, so they’re not invested here. Yes, they are. They drive over an hour one way to work to get here, and they bring new and different ideas.

“Or we have a new young woman there who is going to be our town clerk. I don’t want to see her raked over the embers because she’s young.

“We have our director of tourism who, on these blogs, people made fun of the way she dressed, the way she spoke… the cruelty that I saw. And then these same people say: “but we need young people”. Why do we need it? For Sport? So I’m going to ask, please people, be respectful. You know, these young people are our future. And yes, they make mistakes, just like I still make mistakes, but they are our future, and they deserve to be nurtured and respected.

JEEP IN GALOUR

In his closing comments, Berry spoke about the recent downtown Jeep parade that saw record numbers while causing traffic headaches.

“The Jeep Parade…set a record,” Berry said. “Last year we had 400 Jeeps in total, and I think this year we probably had over 1,000, which caused the good news, the bad news.

“It filled a lot of motels, hotels, a lot of restaurants but the bad news was also – we had no idea what was coming out of this parade – and I met with the parade organizers, as well as the police chief and fire chief, for coming up with some recommendations on how to handle traffic for next year.

Jessica C. Bell