Chamber reins in plan to aid carriages
The Nevada City Chamber of Commerce will no longer be involved in efforts to save the city’s only horse-drawn carriage business, the chamber president said Thursday.
David Vertin, who is also the president of the Nevada City Carriage Co., said the chamber will mail no letters requesting support for his business.
“We have (received) a few calls that have been rather negative,” said Vertin, speaking as the president of the chamber. “I don’t think it’s worth the time and energy to fool with it.”
Vertin, who claims he has lost up to $10,000 a year ever since the company was founded 16 years ago, told city officials in the fall the business would close in January.
The chamber’s efforts to save the company started late last year when Mimi Simmons, the chamber’s past president, organized a series of meetings to find solutions to keep the company in business. The City Council sent two representatives, Mayor Kerry Arnett and Vice Mayor Tom Balch.
Some 2,000 letters requesting donations ranging from $28 to $10,000 were printed last month on chamber stationary.
But some people questioned the appropriateness of using the chamber as a conduit to rescue a business, and the letters were discarded Monday.
Simmons and Vertin were to come up with a new draft. All donations would be sent directly to Vertin, they said.
Vertin said he does not know what he and his partners – whom he declined to identify – will do next to save his business. It’s something they will talk about today, he said Thursday.
Arnett said Thursday he did not know the chamber had decided to step aside.
“That’s news to me,” he said. “I would have to say that’s a chamber decision.”
Evans Phelps, owner of the motel Outside Inn on Broad Street and a chamber member, said she is glad the chamber has decided to drop the issue.
“I think that is good. If Dave Vertin himself wants to go around and ask people for money, that’s his business,” Phelps said.
Vertin has repeatedly said he wants to rent out space at the Nevada City Carriage House, the three-story, 11,000-square-foot building he constructed on Uren Street.
Vertin has yet to obtain the fire department’s approval to rent the assembly hall, fire department correspondence shows.
Exiting doors that meet the state’s fire code need to be installed in the assembly area, David Ray, the city’s fire marshal, said in a June letter addressed to Vertin.
The first-floor horse barn has been approved for occupancy, Ray said this week.
Vertin also said he wants the city to lower his annual franchise fee from $1,000 to $250 – the price of the horse-drawn carriage’s parking spot in front of the National Hotel, he said.
The carriage company is a subsidiary of Cedar Creek Horse Logging and Milling Inc., which is owned by Vertin.
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