Following recommendations from Mayor Will Finn, the Woodland City Council has denied the 2020 dates for Get Bold Events’ annual “Blooms to Brews” racing event.
According to Finn, the recommendation to deny the event followed complaints from citizens and businesses in the city as well as multiple planning reasons such as inadequate signage, additional road closures and not following the traffic control plan.
“I made the request out there to deny the 2020 event due to the fact that the organizers were just not seeing eye to eye as a city and an event,” Finn told The Reflector yesterday. “Every year it is an additional headache for the city (and) an additional cost for the city.”
“Enough is enough. Pack your bags and please leave,” Finn said of Get Bold Events at one point.
Get Bold Events, based in Battle Ground, has been hosting Blooms to Brews in Woodland since 2013 when it was just a half-marathon and 10K run. They also host the Resolution Run in Battle Ground at the beginning of each year. Since its inception, Blooms to Brews has added a 5K, marathon-relay and marathon. According to Elba Benzler, executive director of Get Bold Events, the runs bring in about 2,000 people.
This past April 28, Get Bold celebrated the fifth consecutive year of hosting Blooms to Brews in Woodland. Following the event, Jessica Hartmann, and administrative clerk of Woodland told Benzler the city would be withholding Get Bold’s $50 event deposit. Hartmann deemed a forfeiture of the deposit because the event did not follow the traffic control plan or have adequate signage, she said. What’s more, Hartmann said signs were not taken down quickly enough, cleanup from the event was not done in a timely fashion and equipment was left in Horseshoe Lake Park for three days.
Benzler said he was told by Finn on May 30 that the mayor would be recommending to the council that the 2020 event be denied.
Benzler said he was caught off guard and since the message was sent out three days before the city council meeting, he didn’t have enough time to prepare his statement and asked Finn to extend the vote on the 2020 permit.
“He ignored my request and read his letter and they went right to a vote and they denied the permit.”
Benzler and other Blooms to Brews staff plan to go to the July 15 meeting to state their case and request a reconsideration
“I’m not going into this looking for a fight,” Benzler said. “I’m going into this saying ‘Hey, there’s a problem, I want to fix the problem.’ I want to get along.”
Benzler also said he would rather keep the event in Woodland because it’s great for businesses and the community, it brings in revenue for the city and it’s hard to relocate a marathon.
“All the hotels are filled, for five years there’s been no vacancy. Businesses are feeling an economic impact,” he said.
Finn said he took a number of things into consideration before writing his letter, such as revenue and community support. However, he felt the event organizers could not get on board with Woodland’s standard of business.
“There’s no reason why we would ever turn revenue away unless it’s extremely one-sided and this is a very very one-sided deal here,” he said, later mentioning that the city doesn’t need Blooms to Brews to survive. “We would rather have other events or no events at all than have that event conducted here.”
There is also the issue of where revenue from the event was going. According to Finn, in past years the Woodland Rotary Club received money toward the Scott Hill Sports Park for their volunteer work in the Blooms to Brews event.
However, according to Mayor Finn, the Rotary Foundation didn’t receive the original $7,000 as planned, stating that after calling the Rotary club back in 2016, they received at most $3,000.
“I met with Elba (Benzler) back in 2016 when the Rotary contacted me and said ‘hey, can you help us out? He (Benzler) is not giving us our money. He promised us X amount of dollars for all the volunteer hours put into the event,’” Finn said.
Benzler said Get Bold Events had given the Rotary money in the past to help build the sports complex but was not be able to give as much in 2016 because the event was getting more expensive. He claims the extra expenses came with a marathon being added, given that it requires Boston Qualifier certification, extra mile markers, and more equipment and staff.
“I thought I had explained to them that we have to invest into the event so later we can get more,” Benzler said, later mentioning that he tried to get someone from Woodland Rotary to sit on the event committee so the club could see where the funds were going.
The Rotary and Get Bold Events’ falling out resulted in the allotted charitable funds from Blooms to Brews being directed to youth programs in Woodland for the past few years instead.
In order for Benzler and Get Bold to get a reconsideration, one of the seven members of the Woodland City Council needs to agree and ask for an extension of the vote. Benzler and Get Bold have five minutes in the meeting to ask for this reconsideration.
“This was not my decision to say no, although I gave my recommendation to say no,” Finn said. “At the end of the day it takes seven people to make that (saying no) happen. He can come and preach all he wants; it’s going to take one council member to make that decision. If that doesn’t happen, there’s another message, thank you for coming out tonight and speaking to this, but we’re not interested.”