To The Daily Sun,
I read with interest the article concerning the financial and organizational collapse of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. Having served on the board of that organization for some five years (several as vice president) as the Weirs Action Committee representative I share as does the membership of the Weirs Action Committee the mayor's concern for the future of Laconia Motorcycle Week. We share the concern that the LMWA is running itself into the ground financially while the rally itself diminishes in size and scope.
This year the Sturgis Rally posted records in attendance and retail sales while the Laconia Rally posts a decrease of 25 percent in its traffic count. Clearly for all who wish to see Laconia Motorcycle Week thrive and grow, this is alarming news. Clearly thinking persons would make a serious inquiry into how this came to be so.
The promotion of Laconia Motorcycle Week has been done over the last 20+ years by the group currently going by the name Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. As we watch the downward spiral of attendance and interest in our rally one can reasonably conclude that the efforts of this group, however well intentioned, are failing to produce results.
The article mentions that Laconia H-D, the Weirs Action Committee and the N.H. Motor Speedway have all resigned their memberships in the LMWA. What appears to be outside the scope of the article is how and why this has occurred. The article also fails to mention other members who have chosen not to continue on the board of the LMWA such as the Chamber of Commerce, Gunstock and Larry Baldi.
It is curious that the article seems to imply that those who have left the LMWA board have done so for purely selfish reasons. With this I disagree. Every one of these organizations has an interest in a growing and thriving Laconia Motorcycle Week however every one of these organizations' first responsibility is to their own health and vitality. Each of these organizations concluded that their first responsibility made continued participation in the LMWA no longer possible.
The article refers to the WAC as "reaping significant returns" from operating the Weirs Beach parking lot during the rally and "left the LMWA when the dues were increased from $2,000 to $5,000 a year to address a deficit." The WAC nets approximately $25,000 per year on our parking fundraiser and spends each dollar and more on improving and beautifying Weirs Beach. We would be happy to share with anyone the details of what we do and have done with a few volunteers and some hard work. Other than per diem workers, no one is on any payroll.
The WAC did not leave the LMWA board so much as we were shown the door. At $5,000 these dues would typically represent 20 percent of our funds raised each year. We determined that this was more than we could afford and would create much hardship in successfully pursuing our mission, but in recognition of the substantial financial difficulties of the LMWA we offered to increase our dues to $3,000. We were turned down flat.
As for the dues increase addressing a deficit, I can tell you that even quadrupling the increase in dues wouldn't balance the operational deficit, and would have no impact whatsoever on the substantial long term debt of the LMWA.
Mr. Mayor, the problem is not us.
Joe Driscoll III