'Bollard' fee puts public events at-risk in Troutdale
Word is that organizations that use the main drag through downtown Troutdale for community events may have to pay an additional fee to recoup the city expense for purchasing bollards — the hard steel removal barriers used to block vehicular traffic.
The reasoning behind the bollards makes perfect sense: They improve security and public safety. Nobody wants to see an out-of-control vehicle — or a person bent on destruction — plowing into a crowd of pedestrians during one of these events.
Bollards are a preferred alternative to the process currently used, which involves parking city vehicles across intersections as hard barriers. It costs money — fuel and staff time — to put the vehicles in place and it takes those vehicles out of commission during events. It's also difficult for pedestrians to get around the large vehicles. And it's unattractive.
Having said that, it's disappointing to hear that the city of Troutdale may impose a fee — for installation and removal of bollards — on groups that organize these events. Many of these groups are nonprofit organizations, most with tiny budgets, and in some cases they're raising funds for a philanthropic purpose. Imposing an additional fee would likely siphon off dollars away from charitable organizations that benefit from these events.
Given that the city of Troutdale operates with a $10 million annual budget, the city could easily absorb the $18,000 cost of the bollards without breaking a sweat.
And because there are only four events — right now — throughout the year that close down the Columbia River Highway, we're not talking about a significant amount of time and expense for city crews who install and remove bollards. Those events are the SummerFest, holiday tree lighting, Muscle Hustle fire truck pull and the summer cruise-in.
In the event that the Troutdale City Council goes ahead and imposes the "bollard" fee on community events, the city should consider making it an additional consideration as funds are distributed through the Community Enhancement Program.
Because Troutdale hosts a Metro solid waste transfer station, the regional government annually shares a portion of its revenues with the city, which in turn awards grants to homeowner associations, city advisory committees, service clubs, schools and other community nonprofit groups. These funds could be used to pay the "bollard" fees on top of grants that already go to these groups.
Of course, the best solution would be to call off the whole idea of charging the "bollard" fee.
If local groups are faced with a fee they can't afford, or that diminishes the amount of money they raise for philanthropic purposes, they'll go in search of alternatives — relocating to a new venue or perhaps calling it quits. Neither option would be good for downtown Troutdale, which benefits from an eclectic calendar of events that draw visitors to town.
We hope the Troutdale City Council shows sensitivity to this issue when the topic of "bollard" fees arrives on its agenda in October.