Official Statement & Position
The Somerset Chamber’s mission is to promote, support, and bridge business with the community through economic development and opportunity. While it is not the job of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce to dictate or enforce policies, business practices, or municipal laws and ordinances, we do believe that we have a duty and a responsibility to advocate on behalf of our members when decisions are being made that may significantly impact them. When we do speak, we can only do so with the information that we have available to us at the time.
It is our understanding that the proposed amendment to Somerset ordinances in section 7-10-1(a), 7-10-1(c)(1), and 12-1-1(b) will end the ability of tubers to exit the Apple River at Village Park. We warn that while it may not be the intent of the Village Board to end tubing in the community, the proposed closing of Village Park to tubers, may become the catalyst for its end, potentially cause financial hardship for other businesses who benefit either directly or indirectly from the tubing industry as a large part of our community’s tourism base.
Given the information we have received, we estimate a negative impact of approximately $4-$6 MILLION lost annually in local tourism $$ and a local tax impact of $307,700+ in lost tax revenue, unless all parties involved in these discussions are able to come to an acceptable agreement. While these numbers may differ depending on the source, one can easily see the reason for concern to a small community like ours if the tubing industry is removed without some other destination to draw visitors here.
This information may or may not be complete or may even be biased to a certain degree. In the absence of what the public perceives to be clear, consistent, and open information not provided to the public, the only “informed” decisions one can make are based on the information that we receive at the time from various parties involved, more specifically from our members who have a vested interest in the economic prosperity of their own livelihoods and the Somerset community as a whole.
Moving forward, we would like to submit the following recommendations for consideration; that…
The Village Board table the vote on this agenda item tonight and go back to having discussions where a compromise can be worked at until a solution that all parties are satisfied with has been met and that benefits the whole community.
Whereas most citizens in general are not in the habit of writing or reading legally binding ordinances, or may not know where to find them, we believe the Village Board may benefit greatly by clarifying the wording of the proposed ordinance so that no one person or entity can misconstrue it’s meaning or misinterpret the intentions of the Village Board. More information may be needed, not less.
We propose, as many community Chambers of Commerce also aide in promoting tourism in their local communities, that we partner and assist the Village of Somerset, the Town of Somerset, and other tourism reliant entities to create and promote a community campaign both in and outside of our immediate community; to change the perceptions of the Somerset community as more family friendly and to help tourists (floaters, campers, concert goers, shoppers, and others) to better understand the community’s expectations when they are visiting Somerset.
While both are important to our citizens, we recommend that the Village prioritize the revitalization and economic development of the downtown Somerset area and the creation of quality housing for families looking to relocate to the Somerset area above the Village Park Renovation Plan. This action will, in our opinion, have a greater, longer-lasting, more positive effect on our community and is a project that most, if not every, community member is willing to get behind and support right now.
To be clear, we understand that most issues are rarely one-sided and while we may not always agree on things, we do sincerely appreciate your service to our community. On behalf of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and it’s members, thank you for listening.
Executive Director, Somerset Chamber of Commerce
Somerset Chamber of Commerce - Board of Directors
Amy McCune, President
Julie Wilson, Vice President
Brett Link, Immediate Past President
Robin Snow, Treasurer
Chad Bauer, Secretary
Tim Whiteside, Board Member
Mike Kappers, Board Member
Andrea Jorgenson, Board Member
Brenda Martell, Board Member
Sources: IKWE Development, WI Dpt. of Tourism, http://bit.ly/33RbUCH, WISDOT.gov, Manta.com, Dunn & Brothers/Hoovers.com, and local business owners