Downtown Turlock is going through another change, a change in leadership.After six years of working for the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association (TDPOA), Executive Director Trina Walley resigned as of July 18th.
“I’m looking forward to new challenges and opportunities and wish the TDPOA the best in the future,” stated Walley.
Walley is currently working on plans to start a new business with local friends, and some out of state friends, that focuses on each of their passions; art, music, and travel.
When TDPOA Board President Dee Dee Thomas, a realtor at Century 21 M&M and Associates, was initially asked about Walley’s resignation and filling the vacancy, Thomas said, “Sorry we cannot comment about personnel issues.”
Former TDPOA President Steve Backus, co-owner of On Broadway with Two Guys Catering and Red Brick Cafe, located Downtown across from Turlock City Hall, was quick to contact TurlockCityNews.com to give a statement of appreciation and well wishes.
“Trina Walley was excellent to work with, she was relentless in her work ethic, she was a one woman army performing duties ranging from literally working on the street during events to representing the Downtown Board at Council Meetings… and always doing everything on her own,” said Backus. “I had a great year as President of TDPOA working with her; we accomplished a lot of things. I have nothing but great things to say about her and wish her well.”
Throughout Walley’s time as the TDPOA Executive Director, Walley has represented the organization by being involved in the community and serving on many committees including: Turlock Convention & Visitors Bureau, CSU Stanislaus Public Policy Study on Homelessness, Turlock Centennial Committee, Beautification Committee, Chamber Economic Development Committee, Kiwanis Club of Turlock, Carnegie Art Center Design Committee, Downtown Promotions Committee, Homeless Action Committee, Turlock Farmers Market Committee, Carnegie Art Center Foundation Endowment Committee, and more.
After initial questioning, Thomas said that the TDPOA Board is not sure what they are doing in regards to filling the Executive Director position and are trying to figure out how the position’s duties may be carried out, and what those duties will even include moving into the future.
On Friday, The TDPOA Board sent out an email to Turlock downtown property owners, merchants and friends informing them that Trina Walley had resigned and stating:
“The TDPOA Board of Directors is working hard to fulfill all the areas of her position in the interim. We appreciate your patience during this transition.
As always, we invite your input, suggestions and referrals, but most especially during these next few months. We will begin the hiring process just as soon as possible. We are working hard to better define the goals of the TDPOA so that Downtown Turlock can continue to grow and prosper. We cannot do it without your ideas, support and participation. We welcome this change and look forward to the exciting future in Downtown Turlock.
The next Board of Directors meeting is August 18, 2011 at 4pm in the Boardroom at 300 East Main Street. We welcome you to our meeting.”
TDPOA’s responsible for the maintenance and promotion of the downtown business district. The TDPOA was formed in 2003 as a public-private partnership governed by the Board of Directors, representing downtown property owners. The TDPOA works closely with downtown business owners, community groups and the City of Turlock to make downtown a better place to do business.
The TDPOA Board of Directors for 2011 is comprised of President Dee Dee Thomas (Century 21 M&M and Associates), Vice-President Mike Allen (Allen Mortuary), Treasure Carlos Sandoval (Minerva’s Furniture), Danny Mann (Mann Electric), Mike Kirkes (Retired Properties Owner), Jen Kubala (Ritzy Ragz & Thingz), and Jeff Chapman (Downtown Property Owner).
During the last six years the downtown has gone from a focus on marketing and events to an organization that also works on beautification and economic development of the downtown. In 2005, when Walley first started with the TDPOA, the vacancy rate was at 6% and the first matter of business was to bring more people downtown with events. The only events at the time were the Saturday Gourmet Farmers’ Market in Central Park, the Festival of Lights, and the Christmas Parade had just been transformed from the Saturday morning event to a Friday night Lights on Parade event.
Since Trina Walley took the lead of Downtown, the Gourmet Farmer’s Market was cancelled but a new Turlock Farmers’ Market with the help of a dedicated committee of community members is currently being held on Broadway Avenue on Fridays and is going on its second successful year. Walley was instrumental in growing the Lights on Parade, a joint event with the City of Turlock, from an estimated 5,000 in attendance the year before she arrived to an event that now draws over 24,000 people to the Downtown district due to changes made in the marketing of the event. The Festival of Lights continues to be a popular community tree lighting ceremony and a good street faire kicking off the holiday shopping season.
Walley worked with community groups to add a new event to Downtown in 2005, an annual Trick-or-Treat that started out drawing 400 kids the first year to an event that now brings over 1,500 in attendance.
In 2006 the first Taste of Turlock event was held, selling 200 tasting tickets and bringing in about 300 people to taste samples offered by Downtown restaurants and to participate in a plein air art event. The event was transformed into a multicultural heritage themed event in 2010, bringing in outside restaurants, vendors, and entertainment that now sells over 500 tasting tickets and attracts over 5,000 people.
The American Legion agreed to work with Walley in 2007 to bring the community’s first annual Patriotic Parade & Independence Celebration. Walley worked to promote the event as a community benefit and grew the event from 25 parade entries and 54 car show entries the first year to over 75 parade entries, 100 plus car show entries and now has an attendance of over 10,000 people.
Vacancy rate peaked at 25% in 2008 while some other shopping centers and districts had a vacancy rate of 30% or more.
From 2009 through 2011 TDPOA did not add any new events but instead worked to help other organizations hold their events downtown so that more focus could be put on economic development.
A partnership formed with the City of Turlock and the Small Business Development Center to have a satellite office in downtown to help support downtown businesses with workshops and training, and also to help new business start-up in the Downtown Entrepreneur Center at 300 East Main Street.
Efforts were successful with Downtown Turlock weathering the economic downturn better that other areas and currently has a vacancy rate of 13% and now hosts community events throughout the year.
Campaigns that have not come to fruition or have not been totally implemented include: a downtown parking structure, second story use study, update of the downtown master plan, becoming a bridal shopping destination, and marketing antiques and boutiques with “Found in Turlock."