When the Riverside village board cut funding for recreation events in 2009, a volunteer group stepped forward to save the village’s Fourth of July celebration. In that spirit, a new group is forming to organize special events, specifically concerts, to raise additional money for recreation programs in Riverside.

Not an official governmental committee, the Riverside Special Events Committee grew out of the campaign platform outlined by Alex Gallegos, who ran and lost in the race for trustee in 2009.

Gallegos campaigned on bringing more people to Riverside’s downtown through concerts and other events. Money raised by holding such events in Guthrie Park, he said, could be a funding source for recreation programs in Riverside.

“This will be multi-beneficial,” Gallegos said. “We need to capitalize on our assets. We have an asset in Guthrie Park that is underutilized. More foot traffic will promote more sales taxes and create new revenues for the recreation department as well.”

The nascent group has five members, according to Gallegos, including him. Others are Ben Sells, a village trustee; Susan Casey and Kim Vitek, both members of the Riverside Parks and Recreation Commission; and David Kodama, a Riverside resident who has been active in youth sports programs.

According to Gallegos, not many details have been worked out, but he said the group was hoping to stage at least one event in August in collaboration with the Cory’s Kids triathlon.

Sells said the idea, like Friends of the Fourth, is all part of the new reality in Riverside.

“This is an extension of the whole volunteerism model that’s going to be the wave of the future,” Sells said. Volunteers are going to have to step in to provide the kinds of things, like special events, that municipalities used to provide.

In time, Gallegos said he’d like the Special Events Committee to organize a summer-long music festival, perhaps a jazz festival as a way to bring people to downtown Riverside.

In order to do so, they’ll have to obtain private funding, sponsors and grants for the events to pay for everything from staging to security to insurance. While the village of Riverside has signed on as an official sponsor in the case of the Fourth of July celebration, it is unlikely to do so for a concert series.

“We’re now looking at costs,” Gallegos said. “We’re in the very early stages of this, trying to figure all the logistics out.”

The committee plans on meeting again in early April, Gallegos said.

At some point, the group will have to approach the village to coordinate any such events, but Village Manager Peter Scalera said he’s in favor of the idea.

“We would more than likely need to work with them,” Scalera said. “Regardless, any type of event requires coordination with the village to ensure the police are aware of the event and have the appropriate personnel.

“I’d be for it,” Scalera added. “I like the idea of bringing people downtown.”