GREENVILLE — Members of Greenville’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) took a close look at some of the costs associated with the Gus Macker basketball tournament and Danish Festival at their regular meeting Tuesday morning.
Both events, which take place annually downtown, bring thousands of visitors to the city. While this is typically good for business — at least in the long run — the crowds do create certain logistical problems for city planners.
Not least of these issues is the damage sometimes inflicted on several large flower boxes the DDA recently purchased for the downtown area at a cost of about $1,000 per box. During Danish Festival, according to City Manager George Bosanic, vendors have been known to set up chairs within the flower boxes, damaging plants there. Likewise, flowers in the boxes have been damaged during the Macker tournament.
To help ameliorate the problem, during this year’s event the DDA erected barrier fencing around the flower boxes. At Tuesday’s meeting, members discussed whether the $500 cost of doing so was producing the hoped for results, and if so, whether it should be the DDA bearing the expense.
Bosanic noted that in the case of the Macker, any money raised through the event is split between the tournament organizers, the city’s recreation department and the Chamber of Commerce.
“They bring in 200 teams, but nobody seems to make any money,” Bosanic said. “(As to the fences) I thought it was more important to protect the investment we just made rather than having families setting up in flower boxes we just spent $1,000 on.”
DDA member Deb Huch questioned whether the $500 expense should be the responsibility of the DDA, noting that though the Macker brings crowds to the area, it really has little immediate impact on foot traffic through many downtown businesses.
Mayor John Hoppough likewise agreed that not all downtown events generate immediate business gains for the businesses located there.
All concurred, however, that the business of the DDA is to increase interest in the downtown area and to take a long-term view of activity there.
“This is an investment we should be making,” Hoppough said.
Bosanic echoed that sentiment, pointing out that while visitors who come to town for an event may not immediately spend much money at local businesses, they are far more likely to return later to make some sort of purchase.
“They come into town for these events and maybe come back later to shop,” Bosanic said. “You would never know they originally saw your store during the event.”
In other DDA business, members voted to permit the temporary closing of a parking lot between Clay Street and an alley in order to allow the First Congregational Church to host a “Trunk or Treat” event later this month. The lot will be closed from 8 a.m. to noon on Oct. 29 and 31. One handicap parking spot will remain available on either end of the lot.
Finally, DDA members discussed an open spot on the board. There are currently no candidates vying for the position. No board members had any recommendations for a candidate at this time and the position remains open.