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City sets fee schedule to compete with event venues

First reading approved; second and final reading is May 8

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Wednesday, April 25, 2012

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A new fee schedule for Greer City Park and its event halls and venues was given unanimous approval by City Council Tuesday night. The second and final reading is May 8 at 6:30 p.m.

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A new fee schedule for Greer City Park and its event halls and venues was given unanimous approval by City Council Tuesday night. The second and final reading is May 8 at 6:30 p.m.

Greer City Council is charging ahead in its quest to create a bigger footprint in Greer Station’s event hosting business. The city’s march forward, without restraints in place, is also beginning to limit the public’s weekend access to the park.

Greer City Council Tuesday night gave unanimous approval (7-0) to a first reading for a new rate structure for its events facilities that include the McKown Center as a multi-purpose venue. The McKown Center, costing around $1 million, is undergoing its final punch list and is ahead of its planned mid-summer opening schedule.

The entire park has been rented twice this year at a base price of $2,000. The park was closed last Saturday due to a business function. Two more private functions will close the park in the next two months. That does not include Family Fest May 5-6. The rentals are typically on Saturday, Greer Station’s peak restaurant and business sales.

Greer Station Association (GSA) businesses are already noticing its customers becoming disillusioned when the park is closed. “Customers are coming to town to eat and then plan on going to the park. What does it say about us when they see Greer City Park closed,” one restaurateur said. Another downtown merchant mirrored the same sentiment. Both asked for anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Laurie Campbell, events supervisor for Parks and Recreation, presented a rate structure that encompasses the entire city hall complex for a $3,000 all-day fee, $1,000 more than its present costs but including the McKown Center.  The hourly rates range from $160 for a four-hour one hall rental to $280 for two halls and $400 for three halls on weekdays. Weekend and holiday rates are higher. Non-city residents will be charged more and non-profits will be required to provide proof of non-profit status.  The refundable security/damage deposits will increase to up to $700.

The fee schedule was based on input from non-profits asking for more space. “City Hall is being used in ways not imagined. The Mayor can attest to that,” Campbell said and smiled. She was referring to a wedding held in the lobby area surrounding council chambers. The L-shaped space will become available for $100 for a four-hour block under the new fee schedule. “The lobby is perfect for a small wedding and reception, art shows and music,” Campbell said.

Campbell, when asked if the city’s rates compared to other event venues on Trade Street said, “they are under The Davenport rates” and referenced the rates below Grace Hall. She did not offer specifics to council members and they did not ask in a three-question session.

Add-on fees for security ($25 per hour with two hour minimum plus $10 administrative fee per officer) and personnel event staffing ($25 per staffer with two hour minimum each) increases the costs by at least $120 per event depending on the length of the event’s time. The city mandates that one security officer be present for every 100 event participants.

Mayor Rick Danner said Tuesday night it was the first he heard of downtown merchants raising concerns over the park closings. “It may be a matter of communication. I will visit that.”

“We look at it as an economic development opportunity to drive visitors to downtown,” Mike Sell, assistant city administrator, said.

Driggers previously told council the 2010-2011 budget reflected Greer City Hall and City Park accounting for over $150,000 in additional revenue gained by renting the facilities. Salaries for Campbell, Karl Rogozenski and part-time help for the events staff are not itemized in the city’s budget.

City Administrator Ed Driggers announced to council in a 2011 session, a business  (Omnisource) offered to pay the $2,000 fee to host a company party featuring inflatables, games and food for an employee recognition day. Driggers said he would monitor that event for public comment on how to proceed in the future.  That, according to Driggers, would serve as a benchmark.

Driggers said there were no comments offered from the public or downtown businesses.

Approval at the 6:30 p.m. May 8 city council meeting makes the fee schedule standard.

People mentioned in this article. Click a name to view more articles for that person.

Ed Driggers

Businesses mentioned in this article.

City of Greer, Grace Hall, Greer Cultural Arts, The Davenport

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