Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – After two years of relative stability and unprecedented productivity, the resignation of Arcata Main Street’s (AMS) dynamic director has returned the downtown business organization to its nominal state of being “in transition.”
Executive Director Jeanette Todd announced her resignation last Tuesday morning at the monthly, casual gathering of downtown businesspeople.
That’s one of the new functions Todd created and managed, along with an array of Plaza activities. Todd’s last day is this Friday.
As various city committees attempt the heavy lift of civilizing the Plaza once and for all, conventional wisdom has held that mainstreaming it with wholesome, family-oriented activities is key to harshing away misbehavers. So effective was Todd in forging special events such as the recent Fairy festival, and in elevating already established ones like the Oyster Festival, that the City Council more than doubled its annual stipend to AMS. That money was initially taken from the $150,000 budgeted to carry out recommendations of the Plaza Improvement Task Force, and was later replaced.
During recent budget hearings and in response to an appeal by AMS President Vicky Joyce, the City Council noted that Todd was “knocking it out of the park,” as Councilmember Susan Ornelas put it, and agreed to add $20,000 to the organization’s city funding, for a total of roughly $35,000.
Now though, it’s unclear how much of what Todd had wrought will survive her absence. A Moon Landing Celebration commemorating the Apollo 11 mission scheduled for this Saturday has been called off, in part due to the lack of a projection screen for use on the Plaza.
“It just felt like it wasn’t going to work,” Joyce said, calling it “an event in need of a center.”
However, Joyce said this weekend’s Sunday Fun Day will take place from noon to 3 p.m., and include live music plus juggling lessons with Trish the Dish and Eric Black, who will give a short performance.
Joyce said the monthly business meetings will continue as well. “That’s why I first got involved in Main Street, for the communication,” she said.
As for the rest of the year’s programming, Joyce said, “That’s what we’re going to try to figure out Monday” at a spcial meeting of the AMS board,. While some of the newer events might fall away, it’s unlikely that annual fixtures such as Trick or Treating on the Plaza and the Season of Wonder and Light would be called off.
Joyce said that none of the extra $20,000 the city allocated to AMS has actually been turned over to the group. Rather, AMS was to bill the city for expenses following downtown events. Also, some of that sum was going to come from in-kind donations such as fee waivers.
Said Todd, “I have accepted a position as the Resource Development Director for CASA of Humboldt, July 19th will be my last day with Arcata Main Street. It has been a joy working with the downtown business community and the City of Arcata to bring activities, programming and vitality to our petite nonprofit member service area, in such a small community I am sure our paths will cross again. Thank you for the opportunity to learn and grow through these community interactions, I hope to spend time with you in my new role supporting our youth and drawing attention to CASA’s important mission.”
“We thank Jeanette for her service,” Joyce said. “She has brought so much energy and enthusiasm to the downtown that we will surely miss her.”
Todd has served as AMS’s ED since September of 2017. Joyce said the organization is looking for a new director right away. By week’s end, three applications had been received. Those interested in the position may contact AMS at [email protected].