On with the boat show

Published 4:54 am Saturday, June 2, 2007

By Staff
During a meeting of the Washington City Council this week, Dot Moate, president of Downtown Washington on the Waterfront, said it’s possible the Pamlico Boat Show planned for next April might be scuttled.
If that happens, it would be bad news for the city and Downtown Washington on the Waterfront.
It appears a controversy over funding for Downtown Washington on the Waterfront, the nonprofit organization charged with restructuring downtown Washington’s economy and leading redevelopment efforts in the central business district, may have played a role in placing the boat show in danger of sinking.
Last month, the dispute reared its head at a meeting of the City Council. Some people contended DWOW has done little, if anything, to help improve the city’s central business district. Others said part of the problem is there are “self-serving individuals serving in DWOW” and that “profiteers took over” the nonprofit organization. Those people don’t care about downtown but do care about putting money in their pockets, they said.
Moate disputed those remarks. “DWOW would be most happy to present … everything we’ve done in the last three years,” she said then. “We have nothing to hide.”
If the boat show is torpedoed by the dispute, the city will suffer by losing out on a project that would have brought many visitors and dollars to the area. DWOW will suffer because a project that could have become a major fundraiser for it is no longer in play. The boat show could have helped wean DWOW from city dollars.
DWOW’s dependence upon city dollars is a focal point of the controversy over DWOW’s funding sources. For three years, the city provided $55,000 to DWOW in each of those years. For the next fiscal year, the city is considering provided $100,000 to the nonprofit organization.
Without the boat show, it’s likely DWOW will have to rely on city dollars to fund its work for at least another year or two.
It’s encouraging to hear the factions involved in the dispute are going to sit down and talk over their differences with one another. This should have been done before. If it had happened before, perhaps the boat show would not be in danger and DWOW could move closer to weaning itself from city money.
It’s a good thing the City Council pushed for the factions to meet and settle their differences. When that talk happens, the factions should remember the most important thing when it comes to improving downtown is that it gets improved. More improvements will happen if the factions work together toward a common goal. There’s nothing wrong with each of them taking a different route to that common goal.
Any assistance that can be provided to DWOW to help it put on the boat show next spring must be offered — and accepted.
For those people who accuse DWOW of not doing anything to help improve the city and its downtown, the absence of the boat show next April will be cited as a DWOW failure. Fairly or unfairly painted as a failure, DWOW can’t afford such a label as it tries to wean itself from city money and do its work.
Without the boat show to bring in money for DWOW, the city may feel pressure to continue to fund DWOW. When it began funding DWOW three years ago, the city made it clear it wanted DWOW to become self-supporting. Giving up on the boat show may be interpreted by the City Council as a reluctance on DWOW’s part to become self-supporting.
DWOW must do its best to salvage the boat show. Granted, that may be difficult for the nonprofit group to do without a “permanent” executive director at its helm and someone charting the course for a successful boat show next April.
Scuttling the boat show could be the shot that sends DWOW to the bottom of the Pamlico River.
It would be beneficial to the city, the area and DWOW for the boat show to anchor in the river next spring.
A successful boat show would help calm the troubled waters on which DWOW’s future is sailing.