How Old Town stays afloat

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You will always find some type of event happening in Old Town. Why? The neighborhood doesn’t receive any money from the state so these events help raise funds to pay for everything from trash removal to hanging baskets.

“We don’t actually get any funding from the state,” Old Town Commercial Association board president Jamie Schriner said. “The largest way that we raise funding is through putting on events.”

Schriner said these festivals include the Old Town Oktoberfest, ScrapFest, and the Chocolate Walk.

“The festivals kind of serve a dual purpose. We do them as fundraisers, but also we do them to try to attract people into the community,” she said.

Resident and owner of the Katalyst Gallery, Sarah Arredondo, said those events help keep the neighborhood running.

“When you come to an Old Town festival, you’re actually supporting our infrastructure,” Arredondo said.

Old Town is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which means they are tax-exempt, and Schriner said that the state doesn’t fund small neighborhood-based non-profits.

The Old Town community has to raise funds to pay for things like trash pickup and snow removal, Schriner said.

“We need funding to help keep this area bright and vibrant so people know that there are people here that care about what’s happening in the community,” Arredondo said.

Arredondo said that the community has picked up where the government hasn’t.

Old Town residents also make the banners that hang in the neighborhood, buy the flowers and benches for the street and keep the city beautiful.

“Everything that we do is all about revilitazing the area,” Schriner said.

In 2017, so far, they have spent $11,000 on trash removal, $4,000 on flowers, and another $1,000 to water them.

Arredondo said that they struggle with making sure the trash gets picked up.

She said if it doesn’t get picked up, it looks like “a city where nobody cares.”

The Old Town community has faced some struggles with this lack of funding.

“We’re constantly trying to figure out how to pay our bills and keep the lights on,” Schriner said.

Not only the community as a whole suffers, but also businesses.

Arredondo said that less shoppers come to the area because, “we don’t have as many benches and as many street lights and all the things that like the downtown area has.”

Chad Cottom, owner of SPIN Bicycle Shop, said would make Old Town more desirable..

“There would be more visitors and then I might have more traffic and more business,” he said.

What would they do if they did receive funding?

First, Schriner said that they plan to build a permanent stage so they don’t have to rent one for events.

“It’d be great if we could do some of the events and things that we do and not have to charge for them,” she said.

The lack of funding does have some positives for the people of Old Town.

“It has made us band together as a community,” Schriner said. “We know if something’s gonna get done, we have to figure out a way to do it ourselves. No one’s going to do it for us and no one’s going to hand us any money to do it.”