St. Armands Circle Park is an eventful place.
It’s the site of frequent car shows, art festivals and seasonal celebrations such as the Holiday Night of Lights and Fright Night.
For the St. Armands Circle Association, those events have always come at a price: a $275 per day park-usage fee for non-ticketed events, as well as the association’s costs of putting on the event itself.
But the price just got higher, at least for now, due to a new city policy that recently went into effect:
As of Oct. 1, organizations must pay a $500 reservation fee to save the dates for each event to be held on city property.
The fees can be refunded after the event is over and bills are paid, according to Toni Welicki, city administrative supervisor of outdoor events and auditoriums.
Circle Association Executive Director Diana Corrigan discussed the impact of the reservation fees on St. Armands at the Tuesday, Nov. 13, St. Armands Business Improvement District (BID) meeting. The organization recently paid $500 fees upfront for all upcoming events from January through June.
“Apparently, we’re paying the price for something that was going on downtown called ‘turf wars,’” Corrigan said.
According to Welicki, city staffers have suspected turf wars when people have reserved dates, but then later said their event was canceled after it was too late to schedule a new event, although she didn’t refer to any specific Sarasota area.
“It’s a way to prevent a competitor from getting space for their event,” she said.
Corrigan said that the Circle Association in the past had a $1,000 rolling deposit with the city.
“My argument is, why are we being punished for this?” she said.
But the news wasn’t all bad at the BID meeting.
Corrigan also reported that commissioners directed parking staff last week to work on a plan to make Circle parking enforcement similar to what it was prior to changes implemented last spring or come up with an alternative of which St. Armands stakeholders approve.
UP FOR VOTE
The Sarasota City Commission will vote Monday, Dec. 3 on whether to send the proposed 10-year extension of the St. Armands Business Improvement District (BID) to referenda vote.
If approved, St. Armands landowners will vote on the extension in early 2013. The BID’s current expiration date is Sept. 30, 2013.