City considers recommended Riverfest Park fee schedule
The De Soto City Council asked last Thursday for more information before approving the De Soto Park and Recreation Commission’s recommended fee schedule to rent De Soto Riverfest Park.
The council requested the park board act on the fee schedule in its April 2 meeting when it approved the De Soto Chamber of Commerce’s request to have a June country music festival at the new park. However, the council couldn’t tell chamber director Sara Ritter what fee would be expected because it was waiting for a park board recommendation.
Last Thursday, City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle said the recommendation developed at the April 14 park board meeting was that civic or local non-profit groups would not have to pay a fee for the use of the new park. Commercial organizations would pay a base of $250 for a one-day event and $1,000 for an event lasting longer than a single day.
In addition, the park board recommended all groups would pay a $50 fee for an electrical meter for a one-day event and $100 for an event of more than one day, Guilfoyle said. The chamber used $65 in electricity for its two-day blues and BBQ that opened the park last October, he said.
Furthermore, all groups would have to make a $500 deposit when reserving the park. Its return would be contingent on a post-event inspection for damages and adequate cleanup, Guilfoyle said.
In addition to those charges, all groups renting the park would be expected to provide security, an adequate number of portable toilets and any other services needed for an event, Guilfoyle said.
The park board also recommended the fee schedule be reviewed on a regular basis.
The park board’s goal was to recommend a fee structure that would make the park competitive for events with other facilities in the region, Guilfoyle said. With that, it was hoped Riverfest Park would draw enough events to earn a reputation as a venue, he said.
Councilwoman Mitra Templin expressed concerns with the recommendations, starting with the $500 deposit. She and others on the council said that seemed low.
The city could protect against damages by requiring insurance, Ritter suggested. The chamber spent $1,200 for insurance that provided $1 million in coverage, Ritter said. However, she did not know if that provided protection against property damage or was solely liability protection.
Templin was also concerned that the fee schedule was developed through comparisons to the cost of renting other venues and not with consideration of the costs the city would incur.
“I’m not comfortable giving the use of the park away knowing it is going to cost us money to have event there,” she said.
In response, Mayor Dave Anderson pointed out the city has provided trash removal at Miller Park at the request of the De Soto Days Festival Committee. He and Councilman Mike Drennon said they were comfortable with the park board’s recommendation as a way to build the park’s reputation, especially with regular reviews of fees.
Guilfoyle added the city would have few expenses at events because those renting the park would be responsible for providing all services. That was true of the chamber’s inaugural event, he said.
Templin pointed out the city would have to monitor events and that would come with costs.
The council agreed to reconsider the fee schedule with a fee for city monitoring and a review of the chamber’s insurance policy to see if it covered property tax.