TRAVERSE CITY — The cost to use the Open Space will double for festival promoters after city commissioners agreed to a new fee schedule following months of wrangling.
The public barely weighed in during Monday’s meeting either pro or con but that didn’t stop commissioners from dissecting some of the lesser known components of the new policy, such as parking lot fees. Several expressed some misgivings but in the end found enough they liked to pass it unanimously.
“I would have liked to see something a little more nuanced, but I’m willing to give this a try,” Commissioner Tim Werner said after the meeting. “There were enough things I liked about it.”
Werner and Commissioner Gary Howe both said they would have liked to see fees tied more closely to the amount of park space a festival uses to open it up for smaller, start-up events that don’t need half the Open Space.
The new fee schedule allows festivals to use half of the open space and charges promoters $1,000 for the first day and $500 for each subsequent day, up from $400 and $100 respectively. The city would charge an additional $350 for each day that alcohol is served. It will also allow the city to begin charging promoters who stage events in city parking lots for the loss of revenue from permits and parking meters.
Looked at in isolation the fee increase seems large, Mayor Michael Estes said, but it’s a very small percentage of the overall cost of putting on a festival.
Howe said the fees are right at the top of what should be allowable.
“I’m supporting it but it’s difficult,” Howe said. “I don’t think the city is losing money on these events.”
But Commissioner Ross Richardson said the fees are based on the costs to the city. He also noted there are other parks and venues in the city available for small start-up festivals to use where the fees are lower.
To address other concerns by residents the city will assign staff for the start of festivals to make sure promoters comply with park rules. They will also set up an email address for people to contact the city with complaints. The email will have an automatic response instructing residents about other actions they can take, such as how to file a noise complaint.
Any new festivals will also have to go through a review by the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission to provide an opportunity for public comment.
“I think it’s a done deal,” Commissioner Jeanine Easterday said.