Response to Gilday comments re: Kirkland Uncorked | LETTER

  We simply cannot let the comments regarding the Kirkland Uncorked Festival by John Gilday to go unanswered.  It is unfortunate he chose to make the assertions he did when a few simple conversations with downtown businesses might have produced a different take from John. 1. John asserts $130,000 of Kirkland sales tax has been taken by Uncorked.  I can assure you the state of Washington, given our budget problems, would not allow anyone to avoid sales tax obligations locally or state wide. 2. John asserts Uncorked keeps the money from tent fees.  He fails to note that 40 of the 67 tents pay the large majority of their fees to the Kirkland Art Center.  The KAC reports a $9000 net profit to their budget. 3. John asserts “Uncorked usually takes all the parking.”  Not sure what “all the parking” means, but in reality Uncorked “took” 85 spaces in Marina Park and Kirkland Avenue while preserving 65 Marina Park spaces for the public.  Vendors were required to park off site at prearranged private lots. 4. John asserts tent placement “totally blocked local merchants.”  He is right!  Tent placement on Kirkland Avenue did block view of 3 businesses (two of which are hair salons) and we will work to see that does not happen next year. 5. John asserts that vendors hurt local restaurants.  It took about one hour to visit 18 restaurants, all within about 2 blocks of the festival.  Two said their receipts were down.  Two said their receipts were normal.  Fourteen reported a better than average weekend with 10 reporting increased sales and 10 saying the weekend sales were great, 4 of which said it was “freaky” great. 6. John asserts Uncorked gets $32,000 a year from Kirkland taxes (he may be confused given number 1. Above.)  In reality Uncorked receives $6500/year from the hotel/motel tax which is recommended by the Lodging Tax Advisory Council (BTW a committee of business owner owners.) 7. John asserts over 4 years beneficiary Hope Heart Institute received $7000.  A quick phone call confirmed they have received over $21,000.  The $7000 figure was last year’s contribution alone. 8. John asserts Uncorked pays nothing for Marina Park.  Wrong again.  The event pays $1500 in park rental, $2500 for police coverage, plus ticket sales have always been subject to Kirkland’s admission tax and Uncorked has paid the city $11,454 over the years for this tax. In addition, Boldhat Productions has had a Kirkland business license for 10 years and has paid their share of the head tax just like every other Kirkland business. And one more thing…..37 people were hired to work the event, 10 from Kirkland, and several were offered jobs by virtue of working for the Kirkland Restaurants who offered free food samples throughout the event. We only wish our response could be as terse as John’s attack but sometimes the truth takes time. Clearly Mr. Gilday has issues with Uncorked and we respect his right to air his concerns but we attest that inventing a case does a disservice to Kirkland and the businesses he tries so hard support. Larry Springer   Penny Sweet