Majority has it: Modified Thunder Valley Rally gets green light for 2017

TVR Committee member Rose Ortiz-Unruh said the modified plan addresses the three main concerns: The noise and crowd of the Main Stage concerts, the road closure of Old Town, and lack of parking. (VVN/Vyto Starinskas)

TVR Committee member Rose Ortiz-Unruh said the modified plan addresses the three main concerns: The noise and crowd of the Main Stage concerts, the road closure of Old Town, and lack of parking. (VVN/Vyto Starinskas)


TVR Committee Member Mitch Levy said Old Town merchants have been unyielding in their opposition to the event, without efforts to reach reasonable compromise. (VVN/Vyto Starinskas)

COTTONWOOD – Cottonwood City Council, with a split vote Tuesday night, gave the OK to hold the 2017 Thunder Valley Rally event in Old Town in the daytime, with the evening concerts held at Riverfront Park.

Councilmembers Deb Althouse, Kyla Allen, Linda Norman, Karen Pfeifer voted yes. Mayor Tim Elinski and Vice Mayor Ruben Jauregui voted no. Councilmember Tosca Henry abstained from voting because she felt she didn’t have enough information about the modified proposal presented by the TVR Committee.

The proposal was presented by the Thunder Valley Rally Committee. In an effort to reach a compromise, they suggested that Old Town Main Street be closed during the day for the rally, and reopen at 7 p.m. The Main Stage, which features evening concerts, will move to Riverfront Park. There will be vendors at both locations.

The event is scheduled for Sept. 15-16.

TVR Committee member Rose Ortiz-Unruh said the plan addresses the three main concerns: The noise and crowd of the Main Stage concerts, the road closure of Old Town, and lack of parking.

The TVR Committee was also asked to whittle down the cost of the event. Administrative Services General Manager Rudy Rodriguez, broke down the math. In 2016, around $108,000 was invested in the event. This year, around $44,000 will be invested, which is a 70 percent reduction.

Mitch Levy, owner of Burning Tree Cellars and TVR Committee member, said he heard the opposing presentation from Old Town merchant Trevor Gottschalk. Levy felt that the opposition wasn’t

willing to compromise. If there is no other option, this is our proposal, he said. The Military Service Park will sponsor the liquor license for the event, and 25 percent of proceeds will be donated back.

Ortiz-Unruh said having it entirely in Old Town was best for the event, but she wants people to unify.

Elinski asked why this modified plan had not previously been presented.

The TVR Committee replied that there wasn’t a compromise on the other end, and felt that the sentiment of those who oppose it is “the entire event needs to go, but we’d still like to make money from it.”

Gottschalk presented a map during his presentation, which he described as a “starting point.” He also emphasized that he doesn’t speak for the Old Town merchants. In the presentation, Gottschalk suggested keeping Old Town open, but having one lane closed for bike parking. He also highlighted three different areas in town where the bikers could gather. In his presentation, he included a solution for overflow parking, a larger vendor area, restrooms, and a first aid station. He admitted that he doesn’t ride a motorcycle, and doesn’t have any experience in planning a motorcycle rally.

Gottschalk had presented a strongly-worded letter opposing the location of the rally before the Council in October.

The intent of the letter was to inform the Council and the public of his position - and the position of many other Old Town merchants – on Thunder Valley Rally.

The letter stated that the event negatively impacts the group’s businesses, and said that holding the event in Old Town was not a good fit. The letter requested that there be discussion about moving the location of Thunder Valley Rally, with over 40 signatures from local businesses.

The vote

After nearly 2.5 hours of discussion, including over 15 public comments from business owners, residents, and rally enthusiasts, there was controversy among the Council on whether to vote on the future of the event. Councilmembers who ultimately voted yes on the motion argued that the item needed to be voted on that night. Time was of the essence, Althouse and Allen said, because now there are only seven months left to plan the rally. There also was uncertainty among Council on what exactly they were voting for: To keep the event as is, or to consider the modified plan.

Elinski and Jauregui said they wanted a work session to take place in about a week. Both said they didn’t feel comfortable voting on the item at that moment. Jauregui said he wanted to hear a unified plan from both parties to be presented before Council.

Ortiz-Unruh said the TVR Committee has done everything that Council has asked of them, and said she was worn out. “When Trevor presented, we listened,” she said. “It’s up to you,” she told Council. “Take what we’ve given you and vote.


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AlanChristian 2 years ago

If we have moved the music to Dead Horse, then move the vendors to the ball field behind City Hall, that would open the parking lots @ The Tavern and the West end by simply moving the street closure to just the east of the west end parking lot, and @ the Tavern. Car traffic could then access both parking lots, The Bikes could have their on street parking and everyone would be happy ( I know that would never happen BUT ) Just an idea


geof 2 years ago

Some good ideas for council to consider Alan, although appears they have now made up their minds how to create more unhappiness. I don't think many in the city council have had to experience the mental frustration from noise, etc. that this event causes to many residents. Now residents near Riverfront Park get some of the racket not just from the bands but from the coming and going of hoards of Harley's. Cottonwood will never be rational that some events are best held far away from the living spaces of residents. It's a cave-in to please all that pleases few.


Viking1 2 years ago

Mitch's statements are incorrect about the merchants more merchants showed up to the meetings then TVR committee members. When the merchants tried to discuss ideas or compromise they were shut down and stonewalled by the TVR committee The merchants mentioned Riverfront a long time ago and the committee said no way we were willing to do that. If this could of been done in the in the beginning it would have saved a lot of aggravation. None of the top three concerns of the merchants were addressed in this new proposal. The merchants and the residence make Old Town not this single event. This event has a track record of the continued loss to the taxpayers of Cottonwood. The city has not released a detailed financial statements of the true cost of the event to the public. This meeting was a joke and a setup by TVR committee and specific council members who are on the TVR committee. I strongly encourage everyone to start watching the council meetings on YouTube and judge for yourself