The Marysville Uptown Renewal Team will continue to have a dedicated manager, although how the position will be paid for has yet to be determined.

The Marysville Uptown Renewal Team will continue to have a dedicated manager, although how the position will be paid for has yet to be determined.

Funding for URT manager Gretchen Friend's position was set to expire on July 30. The position has been funded through the city of Marysville, the URT and the Union County Economic Development Partnership (UCEDP).

URT board vice chairman Dennis Schulze said the position is being extended.

"(Friend) is not going away here in August, but at this instant I don't know more," Schulze said. "We're putting together a plan to go over the fundraising effort and see if we can come up with a sustainable plan that will last for a period of time."

URT chairman John Cunningham said the plan is currently to extend the position until the end of the year, if not longer.

"That's our goal," he said. "We'd like to make (the URT manager position) as long-term as possible. We want to get over this bump in the road from a funding standpoint; we're extending the position to December."

Established in 2004, the URT is a division of the UCEDP. The group is dedicated to revitalizing Marysville's Uptown district by encouraging new business opportunities and building re-use and rehabilitation.

As Uptown manager, Friend is in charge of managing the daily operations of URT revitalization efforts, including coordination and implementation of policies and projects of the organization.

The manager also serves as an advocate, spokesperson and ambassador for initiating, coordinating and implementing the uptown development program, which uses the Main Street program process of four classic principles: organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring needed to successfully carry out the revitalization of Uptown Marysville and sustain its viability.

The position is paid approximately $30,000, plus some bonuses that are built in.

Cunningham said the URT board has approached the city of Marysville about providing additional funding to extend the position.

Cunningham said the city administration has agreed to raise the issue with city council.

City administrator Jillian Froment said Marysville has been contacted to provide additional funding, but that there are no funds earmarked in the city's budget for help.

"It's my impression that any decision like that will need to go before city council. There's no money in the budget planned for (the URT manager position)," Froment said. "Further, I think (Chamber of Commerce CEO Eric Phillips) is leading that project as to how they're going to do that, so the city would look to them as to what they need."

An e-mail message sent to Friend requesting comment for this story was returned by Phillips, stating that he and Friend have no comment on the situation, and that any future questions about the position are to be directed to him.

Schulze said there are some plans in place to continue funding the position.

"The city gave a certain sum and the rest has been covered by the URT, with the income that we've had," he said. "We still have a sum in the bank, and the city has consistently over the last years given $10,000 to URT from their bed tax revenue, and those are funds that are supposed to be used for this sort of thing. We figure that we're going to need to raise about $10,000 by the end of the year, and we should be able to accomplish that. We then would want to raise about $40,000 the next year and supplement that with the city funds we already have."

Fundraising to support the URT manager's salary is part of the position's description. Schulze said that the fundraising needs to be addressed.

"That has not been accomplished like we would like it to be, but there have been so many other things that have needed to be done," Schulze said. "I've asked that question, and found out (Friend) is spending a significant amount of time on meetings, working on things like the covered bridge festival, bus tours, the bike fest, and certain things that are CVB jobs that need done; she's also put in an inordinate amount of time on a membership campaign that will bring in some funds, and more people to Uptown. To her credit, she's done those things where the selfish thing would be to concentrate on raising funds that would be part of her salary. When you look at it, it's a noble, valid reason, but at the same time, we need to correct that so it doesn't come to a crisis time no matter who is doing those tasks."

lrice@thisweeknews.com