Collins: Let the Port Angeles Downtown Association work out its own issues
By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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Another was removed from the board of directors, then reinstated.
But the organization will have to work out its problems on its own, Deputy Mayor Brad Collins said Saturday in light of City Manager Dan McKeen's recent review of the organization and its relationship with the city.
“It is consistent that the city would expect the [Port Angeles Downtown Association] to work it out among themselves,” Collins said.
Board President Jack Harmon ordered association member and critic Don Zeller out of a board meeting Aug. 13 after the two men clashed over the ouster, then reinstatement, of board member Kevin Tracy in July.
Zeller, owner of Zeller's Antiques, and Tracy, owner of Tracy Wealth Management, have accused the business group's board of ineffectiveness and of being out of touch with the organization's 190 members, few of whom, other than board members, attended the Aug. 13 meeting.
PADA members pay the downtown association a yearly assessment of $160 to $400 to manage shared, free parking for customers.
The Aug. 13 meeting was sparsely attended by anyone other than board members.
The group also gets about $20,000 annually in public money through the city for economic development.
City Council members July 17 asked McKeen to review information on the organization and the city's role in its operations.
“It is not surprising for an association made up of so many persons with diverse interests and experiences would have some level of discord,” Mc-Keen said in an Aug. 10 memo.
“That said, the association does have a mechanism — through an election process — to address issues as they arise.
“For the council to weigh in on the situation — beyond its obligation to ensure contractual accountability — could be interpreted as inappropriate action by the city.”
The interest of the city “is largely limited to ensuring the PADA is held accountable for meeting contractual obligations, which it appears to be doing,” McKeen said.
He reiterated his position Friday.
“The issues between the board and its members is really not a function of the city,” McKeen said.
While the City Council has not discussed McKeen's memo at council meetings, “we all sort of felt his comments were consistent with what the council's thinking is,” Collins said.
“I think that Dan's memo identifies how the city would proceed.”
The lack of a more assertive stance by the City Council did not sit well with Tracy.
“If the goal is to have a vibrant, thriving downtown, how can the city ignore that when clearly that is not the case?” Tracy said Friday.
“We have an organization that is receiving city tax money. We have a relatively small, isolated group of people who clearly are not helping downtown become a thriving, prosperous place.”
Tracy and Zeller organized a no-confidence petition among association members that successfully requested a city audit of the PADA in 2011.
The organization was found in compliance with its contract with the city but was urged by city staff to reach out more to membership.
Harmon, owner of Expeditions Northwest, Arrow Launch and Arrow Marine, said he had not seen McKeen's memo and first learned of it Saturday from a reporter.
“I'm not surprised, to tell you the truth,” Harmon said of the conclusions it contained.
“I and the board very much look forward to working with any member regarding issues in the downtown, period,” he said.
“I believe this board and myself are very open,” Harmon said.
“If I have to do something different to make any individuals feel we are even more open, I would absolutely do it.”
The next downtown association board meeting is at 6:15 p.m. Monday at 208 N. Laurel St.
The meeting is open to the public.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at email@example.com.
Last modified: September 03. 2012 5:06PM