Loss of coordinator troubles Main Street board, leaves program adrift

Sandy Main Street is at a crossroads.

For months, its board members and volunteers had been planning to hire a full-time coordinator for two years, with help from the city of Sandy and AmeriCorps.

Candidates for the 11-month position went through the screening and interview processes recently, but all plans fell apart when the candidate the Main Street board preferred was matched with a different position elsewhere.

So now, all bets are off, and it’s time to regroup and decide which direction is most prudent, said City Manager Seth Atkinson.

The council scheduled a meeting dedicated to answering this question. The meeting was to be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13, after The Post’s press time. (Check our website Wednesday for an update).

The city was planning to be involved only to the extent of assisting with temporary funding, while the group located a more permanent, stable and long-term source of funding.

The city’s allocation, as detailed in the 2013-2015 biennial budget, was $60,000.

“This is an opportunity for the City Council,” Atkinson said, “to re-evaluate the purposes and goals behind the budget allocation for the Sandy Main Street organization.”

Among the options, as Atkinson outlined for the panel, are three choices:

1. The city’s Economic Development Department could take on the duties and tasks associated with the Main Street organization.

This is the option the Main Street board has recommended, citing inadequate time or resources to pursue long-term financing.

2. Try to find another AmeriCorps person who would take the position.

This would need to be done quickly because the available AmeriCorps volunteers are all seeking and taking other employment.

3. Divorce the city of Sandy from all Main Street activities. Essentially, this would mean scrapping plans for the program, although local businesses or the chamber of commerce could choose to operate two or three of the most popular activities. The city’s budgeted funds for Main Street would melt into the city’s surplus at the end of the biennium.

In the minds of the Main Street board members, Tuesday’s session should focus on the basic questions:

“Do you want to mush along for two years with maintenance management?” stated a report from the board to the council.

“Or do you want to carry on an aggressive program of building relations with property owners, slowing business turnover and carrying on active recruitment of new businesses?”

The Main Street board believes the city should take over all Main Street actions.

But in Atkinson’s mind, Tuesday’s meeting might be better spent as a brainstorming session to see if there are more than three options — perhaps an option more innovative than the three most obvious.

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