The Newburgh Town Council approved the costs to rent the new Allen Family Amphitheater, but decided to waive the rental fee through the end of 2020.
The council approved the rate for the rental fee and deposit for the amphitheater as well as fees associated with renting equipment in their regular meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 27. However, the council also agreed to waive the rental fee throughout the end of this year to help encourage people to utilize the facility since the town won’t be able to host a grand opening event for the facility until next year.
“This way it gets people in, gets people to see it, gets the word out there,” Newburgh Facilities Coordinator Andrea Balboni said.
While the rental fee will be waived, renters will still need to have required insurance as well as pay the deposit, a cleaning fee and a fee related to access to wiring for sound. In addition, once the facility’s concession stand is added there will be a fee for access to that space.
Balboni said there have already been inquiries about renting the space from several organizations in Newburgh and Evansville. She said many are arts and entertainment organizations that have had to make adjustments due to the pandemic.
“It’s a lot of groups that can’t do what they normally do inside or can’t pull in large crowds so they want something smaller,” she said.
Council president Stacie Krieger said she is in favor of waiving the fees, but she said she doesn’t think the council should have a regular policy of waiving fees for the amphitheater.
“I don’t mind waiving fees for the rest of 2020, but I don’t want local groups expecting that in 2021,” she said.
Clerk-Treasurer Nannette Angel said the council should also remember that the fees imposed for renting the facility are the fees used for upgrades and maintenance down the road when they are needed. She said a general policy allowing for the fees to be regularly waived could result in projects being cut short or delayed in the future.
“I just encourage everybody to remember we really need to work on maintaining our capital assets,” she said. “If we waive the fee, that’s less money in the account to maintain the buildings that we need to show off.”
Council member Steve Shoemaker said that is the reason he was against waiving the fees. He said organizations have already shown interest in renting the facility so the council shouldn’t need to provide extra encouragement through waiving fees to utilize the facility.
“I don’t think we should waive the fee,” he said. “I’m going to vote against it because we need the income for it.”
Council member Carol Schaefer said offering the discount for the first four months of the amphitheater being open can help people get hooked on the venue.
“Let’s get them here and suck them into the beauty and to this amazing venue,” she said.
Council member Anne Aurand said this is the perfect time to build relationships with organizations, specifically school groups, that may be in other facilities or travelling to competitions out of town this time of year. She said those organizations won’t likely be looking for facilities at home this time next year otherwise.
“This is one year that they are going to be here,” she said. “I think we need to accommodate that as best we can for any of the school groups.”
The council ultimately approved waiving the rental fee through the end of 2020, 4-1, with Shoemaker casting the vote against.
The council also discussed the potential of charging more for individuals and organizations who are not residents of the town.
Balboni said the only other town facility that has a varying fee structure based on residency is Preservation Hall. Plus, she said it is difficult to manage administratively because people just get around the issue by lying on the application by using the address of a friend or family member who lives in town.
“People will blatantly just ask, ‘My friend lives on Water Street. Can I just use their address?’ ” she said.
Shoemaker said the goal in constructing the amphitheater has always been to bring in new people. He said penalizing potential renters for living outside of town would be counter-intuitive in that respect.
“I think the reason we have the amphitheater is we’re encouraging people to the town and spend some time in Newburgh,” he said.
The council meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m.