The Downtown Association released it’s annual report for 2020, a challenging year in which we managed to play important roles for downtown and the Fairbanks Community.
2020 Annual Report
Downtown Association of Fairbanks
Downtown Association of Fairbanks Community Services
The Downtown Association of Fairbanks formed in 1979 to serve its members as a 501c4 nonprofit corporation. After realizing that an Association needs to also serve charitable purposes and community needs to address downtown’s broader revitalization, the Downtown Association formed a subsidiary 501c3 corporation, the Downtown Association of Fairbanks Community Services. Today, these corporations encourage downtown’s improvement to benefit the Fairbanks community. These two corporations promote downtown and advocate for investment downtown; and host major community events like the Midnight Sun Festival and Alyeska Pipeline’s Solstice Fireworks Downtown and make it possible for Fairbanks to have a Community Service Patrol program.
Donations to the Downtown Association of Fairbanks (501c4) are business deductions and donations to the Downtown Association of Fairbanks Community Services are tax-deductible.
2020 ANNUAL REPORT
When Covid-19 disrupted normal market forces, the Downtown Association’s primary revenue streams sustained major losses due to Covid-19. Many member businesses were damaged by Covid-19 such that membership dues declined. Event revenues were way down because we had to cancel the Midnight Sun Festival. Modest-and-declining gaming revenues froze when state mandates closed the bingo hall and revenues have not recovered. Still, in 2021 the Downtown Association kept working to improve the business climate downtown in ways available to us, so that downtown strengthens its role as the vital, energetic, attractive center of business and community.
Successes in 2020:
- Due to our work with the City of Fairbanks on formalizing Downtown Snow Removal Standards, the downtown core enjoyed a year of much-improved street snow removal operations, and sidewalk snow removal is improving. As a recent example, with this year’s November 6-7 blizzard, downtown was cleared seven days later, only 3 days after the city formed a night crew.
- The City of Fairbanks updated its ordinance on “nuisance properties” that established a fine for “excessive police activity” to begin addressing the quantity of nuisance properties in the downtown area, and for the city to recoup the costs.
- We continue as a $110,000 financial partner with the City of Fairbanks to keep the Community Service Patrol working so that downtown and the community have a better (though not perfect) response to the intensive needs of chronically inebriated people found in public spaces
- Even though we had to cancel the Midnight Sun Festival, we know that “signature” community events are still important to sustain interest and positive experiences downtown, so we powered ahead with the Solstice Fireworks Downtown, Santa and Reindeers at Morris Thompson Center and a Holiday Scavenger Hunt.
Failed attempts (that needed to be tried) on opportunities that will come around again in some fashion:
- Parking enforcement downtown is a city power that the city delegated to the non-profit Fairbanks Parking Authority through a Parking Management Agreement. We challenged the parking enforcement status quo by asking the City Council to update that Agreement to include economic development goals to ensure parking management downtown isn’t unnecessarily hurting businesses to meet Parking Authority budget goals. The Parking Authority board rallied to its own defense in the midst of Covid outbreak last spring and the Agreement was renewed with a new, now-explicit goal – that ticket revenues must cover the costs for parking enforcement. The Downtown Association continues to consider this an odd arrangement – a city power that is not eligible for city resources.
- Traffic circulation plays an important role in downtown’s growth and development. When a street is up for reconstruction – as 5th Avenue is in 2023 – it is a time to consider how the street meets downtown’s circulation needs. We fought hard to have a fair consideration of converting 5th Avenue to a 2-way facility to make it easier to navigate in downtown’s economic area. We will stay involved with the design for the 1-way reconstruction the city stuck to.
A so-far successful, months-long attempt to restore the Downtown Association’s revenue source from gaming:
- Since 1979, the Downtown Association has derived some part of its revenue from gaming (bingo and pull tabs). This “passive” income from Downtown Bingo supported programming downtown for years, but gaming proceeds have declined over the last decade. When gaming proceeds got perilously close to zero, Downtown Bingo chose to improve its facilities by moving to the former Wells Fargo building in October of 2019. Talks had just begun to merge with Youth Sports Bingo when Covid-19 struck. By July of 2020, the two bingo halls merged into Youth Sports Bingo, and confirmed the merger in December.