Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Heart of Vacaville Improvement district keeps it ticking

Heart of Vacaville

Improvement district keeps it ticking

Article Launched: 01/02/2007 05:30:36 AM PST

The public-private partnership that promotes downtown Vacaville begins the new year with a full plate.

None of the projects and initiatives on its agenda is more important than strengthening the underpinnings that will create long-term stability for the Downtown Vacaville Business Improvement District.

The City Council wisely reinforced its long-term investment in what is becoming better known as the "Heart of the City" by recently renewing its contract with the downtown business group. That will enable the improvement district to continue to collect fees from businesses and property owners within its boundaries.

The council also included a matching grant of $52,250 from the downtown redevelopment agency.

While the original agreement would have reduced the district's annual grant from the city by 5 percent per year, the council prudently held the line and added $2,250 to improve the marketing and support for the farmers' market held on Saturdays.

Despite the huge draw of Merriment on Main and the CreekWalk Concert Series, downtown Vacaville remains a hidden secret to many who live in the far corners of Vacaville, and to neighbors in surrounding communities. The business group, however, has steadily improved its visibility with a variety of events.

Lured by the Downtown Bicycle Race, the Art & Wine Stroll, the Wine and Brew Festival or the Middle Earth Festival, visitors from near and far experience the warmth and charm of downtown Vacaville. They discover the new dining and entertainment venues that are multiplying.

Downtown's office environment is maturing. And its restaurant roster is growing with a diversity of American and ethnic eateries that are flourishing. A wine bar will be the next addition in Town Square. Lunchtime concerts in the square were a wonderful complement to the weekday fare.

The work of supporting and nurturing businesses downtown continues. The district established an emergency operations plan to help businesses cope in the event of a natural disaster. It is working with the city to improve the approaches to the downtown area.

Its most critical goal for the new year is one we wholeheartedly endorse: completing a manual of policies and procedures that will strengthen the organizational structure, so that it can manage itself well into the future. Its board of directors will experience the natural churn of new members and longtime supporters. By having well-defined policies and explicit procedures, the organization can better withstand the typical ebb and flow of businesses and property owners who participate in the district's leadership.

The city, through the redevelopment agency, has fostered the growth of the Downtown Vacaville Business Improvement District. It has experienced its formative years and must now look ahead to more productive, more effective and more sophisticated programs to capitalize on its growth and development to date.

After all, it is the heart of the city.

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