Town to charge businesses, out-of-towners for use of park

Businesses and out-of-towners will be charged a nominal fee to host events at the Skenesborough Waterfront Community Park.
The town board approved last week a resolution to charge those groups for the privilege of holding events at the park.

“We’re not charging Whitehall residents any money for use of the park,” Supervisor George Armstrong said. “I think that’s the right direction. We don’t need to charge our residents for not-for-profit uses.”

Residents seeking to host events such as family reunions, weddings or graduation parties and not-for-profit organizations that would like to hold events, including fundraisers, will not be charged for use of the park.

“I think residents are already paying taxes to maintain the park and they shouldn’t be charged to use the park,” said board member Stephanie Safka, reflecting the consensus of the board, which approved the measure by a 4-0 margin (board member Richard LaChapelle was absent).

Officials have been working on a plan to manage the state-owned park since they moved the town offices from the Canal Corp. Visitors Center to the Whitehall Municipal Center last fall.

The town, which has an agreement to maintain the park in exchange for full control of its use, had considered hosting events at the park to raise revenue that would be used to cover the expense of upkeep and maintenance, but those plans unraveled earlier this year.

So last month, the Recreation and Parks Committee, which consists of elected officials and local residents, began meeting to discuss ways to utilize and pay for the park.

One of the committee’s first tasks was determining if it should charge groups or individuals for use of the park. Initially, the committee considering charging a fee to anyone wishing to use the park, but the tenor of those discussions changed last month after several board members thought it was best not to charge residents.

Board member Dave Hollister questioned the legality of charging anyone to use the park but town attorney Christian Morris said the town had the right based on its contract with the state.

Officials decided to charge for-profit businesses a $200 fee to use of the park while out-of-towners will be asked to pay $100. For-profit vendors at not-for-profit events, like those at the annual powwow, will not be charged because they are already paying a non-profit organization for the privilege to hawk their wares at those events.

All groups and individuals, regardless of where they are from or their purpose (for-profit or not), will be asked to provide a $200 refundable security deposit. All groups will need to register their event ahead of time with the town clerk.

Spur of the moment activities, such as a small family picnics, will not incur a charge nor would they be subject to board approval.

 

Progress made at Sr. Center

A number of minor improvements required by the state in order to obtain a Department of Health permit at the Senior Center have been completed.

That work included minor repairs to walls and the installation of a new drain in the kitchen.

“Everything has been done except the refrigerator,” Safka said.

In order to serve and store food, the state has mandated that the town purchase a commercial refrigerator.

Safka said she has found a number of used refrigerators that would be appropriate but by the time she can get approval from the board they have been sold.

The town approved a motion to allow Safka to spend up to $1,000 on a commercial refrigerator and she is hopeful she will be able to find one in the coming weeks.

Update on court

The town has received and deposited a $60,000 Justice Court Assistance Program grant that will be used to finance the cost of renovations to the area of the Whitehall Municipal Center designated for the village and town courts.

Officials are still working through the logistics of those renovations and trying to determine what they are required to include in a new courtroom facility.

They did say the project is not subject to prevailing wages.

The town has until Oct. 1 to show how it intends to use the money or it has to be returned.

Vanishing act

Louie Pratt, town highway superintendent said nearly a dozen road signs have turned up missing over the past several months.

“I’ve tried welding the bolts on and putting the signs on 10-foot poles and they keep disappearing,” Pratt said

He said the cost to replace each sign is $50 and that doesn’t include hardware or poles.

“I can’t keep replacing them.”

The disappearance (likely to theft) has been a problem throughout the area over the years. The Town of Hartford, for instance, has consistently had signs on Blood Street and Dick Hill Road turn up missing.

 

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