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Could Fathoms move?

A month after the carnival, the Fathoms O’Fun Festival Association and the Port Orchard Bay Street Association are assessing the impact of this year’s celebration and determining what next year’s will look like.

Downtown merchants and Fathoms volunteers have debated the location of the Carnival, the merchants arguing that the location blocks parking, and brings garbage, vandalism and crime downtown. Association members have worked to minimize the impact of the carnival, decreasing the size by four rides this year to give more parking, but took significant financial losses.

The carnival pays for the fireworks display over the Sinclair Inlet, and this year, Fathoms Chair and Float Director Allan Mahaney said the group took in thousands less than in years previous.

The Bay Street Association distributed surveys to merchants after the carnival and received eight back, while last year 18 businesses responded. Three businesses reported nominal to 30 percent increases in business, and four reported 20 to 75 percent decreases — one business was new and could not compare to previous years.

Mallory Jackson, owner of Custom Picture Framing and chair of the Bay Street Association, said some merchants decided not to participate in the survey because they didn’t feel it would make a difference.

Jackson said there were some improvements, with no instances of vandalism to the merchants and fewer instances of litter and loitering. She said the increased parking helped, as well.

“In general, I think we did have less trouble with garbage,” she said. “I liked the fact that one lot was leftover so the carnival patrons would have a place to park.”

But the smaller carnival had some financial ramifications for the Fathoms. Mahaney said the group is still crunching the numbers, but the events grossed approximately $4,000 this year, which is decidedly less than the $8,000 collected in previous years.

Additionally, carnival employees vacated the area in the evenings, hoping to ease merchants’ concerns over crime and vandalism, but one of the carnival’s own booths was broken into after hours.

The association is determining what it will do next year about the carnival, and is considering either changing the carnival company or the location of the event.

“For next year, we haven’t decided yet,” Mahaney said, but added that he hopes to keep the carnival downtown. “To me, taking it out of downtown is defeating the purpose.”

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