Parks Board Settles On Fees For Amphitheater

FILE PHOTO from November 20th, 2019: Rental fees for the new amphitheater at Lucerne Park in Warsaw were topics of discussion at the Parks Board meeting Tuesday afternoon. The board had discussed the fees at its October meeting, but came to no decision. Photo by David Slone

After the Warsaw Parks and Recreation Board approved new rental fees for the Lucerne Park amphitheater and Central Park Plaza Tuesday, it heard an update from the mayor on the possible ice rink.

The one-day rental fee for the recently built amphitheater or plaza now is $175, but no damage deposit is required. That’s up from the $26.75 (with tax) for the old amphitheater and $100 for the plaza. The plaza also had a $250 damage deposit, which now won’t be required. Parks Superintendent Larry Plummer said the plaza rental fee hadn’t changed since it was built in the 1980s.

The board had discussed the rental fee for the amphitheater at its October meeting but came to no decision.

To start Tuesday’s discussion on it, Plummer told the board the amphitheater construction is complete.

“We were able to find the funds to complete it, so the original drawing is complete. We did some additional work out there – we did the lighting, the ornamental lighting is in, the electrical is in. The landscaping. Additional concrete work. Sidewalks. And then the big concrete slabbing that goes to the lake,” Plummer said, adding that the amphitheater project cost $211,000.

“I really feel it’s a beautiful thing that’s going to last for years,” he said.

The amphitheater will hold approximately 288 people. “The only thing we need to do is establish the rate for that,” Plummer said.

Board President Steve Haines asked for comments from the board as to the fee. He noted that at the October meeting he brought up a fee of $125 to $150.

“After being down there, looking this over and seeing the money we spent on it, and the interest that (administrative assistant) Heather (Frazier) says we have on renting it out, I really don’t think that’s high enough,” Haines said.

Larry Ladd, board vice president, asked what groups generally rented the amphitheater and for what functions.

Plummer said rentals were mostly for weddings. Board member Jill Beehler said in 2018, the old amphitheater had eight rentals in June on Saturdays and Sundays; a church took all the Sundays for the summer; and there were nine in July, nine in August and eight rentals in September. She said there were no rentals during the week.

“But I think we all expect it to grow,” Haines said.

Plummer said it’s a different animal now with the way the new amphitheater looks.

After some discussion, Ladd eventually made a motion for the amphitheater and plaza rental fees to be $225. That motion died for lack of a second. His motion for $200 also died for lack of a second.

Board member Michelle Boxell suggested $150 at one point, but then eventually made a motion for it to be $175 with no damage deposits required. Bill Baldwin, board member, seconded her motion and it was approved 3-2, with Haines and Ladd opposed. Baldwin, Boxell and Beehler voted in favor of the $175.

The parks department’s other rental fees for shelters, buildings, picnic tables and sawhorse tables were reviewed but not modified.

One area that the Parks Board may review next year is the campground fees. The rates are $32 nightly, $192 weekly, $490 monthly or $1,900 seasonal. Those rates were last raised in 2018, according to Haines.

Plummer said this year the campground had 37 seasonal sites and six non-seasonal for a total of 43 sites.

“The total nights possible were 7,267 nights. We had somebody rent it 7,152 nights. So we were at 98% capacity and our total income was $89,997.23,” Plummer said, later adding they had 35 seasonals interested in returning in 2020.

Mayor Joe Thallemer then gave the board a short, informal update on the ice rink and promised to update them monthly on it.

The city has been discussing a possible ice rink for a few years, generally at Center Lake. In September, the K21 Health Foundation and its executive director, Rich Haddad, announced it was pledging $1 million for the construction of an ice rink in the county. Haddad was at the park board’s October meeting to discuss the rink.

Tuesday, Thallemer said he met with Plummer, Maintenance Director Shaun Gardner and city Senior Planner Justin Taylor. “We’re pretty much zeroing in on the tennis court location and looking at that footprint, if you will, to see what size we would need. We’re going to have to engage an architect and someone who – probably an engineering firm – that knows the right way to put a skating rink in. But before we did, we wanted to make sure we had our footprint decided on.”

A meeting with an architect and a firm that “puts a lot of ice rinks in” is being scheduled.

“I just want to make sure that folks understand, the original location that our feasibility study showed a few years ago was, obviously that pavilion next to the existing pavilion, and that is not where we’re considering,” Thallemer said.

He said they’re looking at the rink being over the tennis courts, as well as ways to potentially raise funds to help build the rink.

The tennis courts would be available in the warmer months, with the ice rink being there in the colder months. There would be programming in the facility year-round.