Dear editor,

I saw numerous comments on Facebook about changing the Bands on the Blackwater from Friday nights to some other day or time. 

Also, there were comments about taxpayer dollars paying for the Bands on the Blackwater. 

So, I wanted to respond.

Several years ago, the then City Council recognized that downtown Milton needed some kind of boost. In order to improve and promote the downtown, they created a Community Redevelopment Agency to accomplish that. 

As a mechanism of funding, they applied to the county to earmark any increased taxes on the properties in that district to fund the activities of the CRA. That is called tax increment financing. 

This only comes from the properties in the community redevelopment area and does not increase the taxes those properties pay, just any increases from the time the CRA was established are earmarked for the CRA.

Yes, the money that the CRA gets is taxes.  However, those funds are the taxes earmarked to be used within that community redevelopment area for improvements and promotion. 

In the beginning of Bands on the Blackwater, those monies were used as seed money to get things going. 

As it grew, CRA was able to get sponsorships (that) now pay for Bands on the Blackwater events. 

For a while, the Main Street Milton group promoted musical and other events downtown on Friday nights. Those activities limped along and did not draw a large crowd. Therefore, the CRA decided to promote Bands on the Blackwater in order to draw more people to the downtown area. 

The Bands on the Blackwater activity has grown and attracts large crowds at every event. 

In the meantime, two restaurants, Blackwater Bistro and Boomerang Pizza (Kitchen), have thrived. 

Granted, not all businesses started in downtown have remained. However, it was not because Bands on the Blackwater took business away on Friday nights! 

Now, the officers of the Santa Rosa Historical Society, many of whom are members of Main Street Milton, want to change Bands on the Blackwater from Friday nights to another night so their nightclub / bar room in the Imogene Theatre can draw from the crowd that attends the Bands on the Blackwater events. 

Most of the attendees at Bands on the Blackwater events would not go to the Imogene nightclub / bar room events anyway. 

It is just another attempt by the Santa Rosa Historical Society group to meddle with a successful event promoted by the city, through the CRA, in order to try to enhance their activity. 

To change the Bands on the Blackwater events from Friday nights to some other time would be like killing the goose that lays the golden egg. 

The event would go back to being a mediocre event with very little attendance. 

Leave it on Friday nights!

 

JIMMY MESSICK

Milton