Cape Elizabeth may charge Beach to Beacon $25K for use of park

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The town has hosted the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K for 13 years, but has never charged the organization for use of Fort Williams Park.

That could change next year.

The Town Council on Monday is expected to vote on a proposed $25,000 group use fee for the park that would apply to the race.

Race organizers are not expected to balk at the proposal.

The 14th annual road race is scheduled for Aug. 6, 2011. The world-class event draws 6,000 participants and thousands of spectators. It takes the town several days to prepare and requires an army of volunteers from Cape Elizabeth and neighboring communities.

According to Town Manager Mike McGovern, charging a use fee for the park, where runners cross the finish line near iconic Portland Head Light, has been suggested several times over the years. 

“It was a difficult fee structure to figure out,” he said. “We charge other groups a fee to use the park, but the (Beach to Beacon) was never charged. How do we charge for an event that that takes several days to prepare for, but is relatively brief?”

After several council workshops on ways to generate revenue from the park, discussions with the Fort Williams Advisory Commission, public forums and citizen suggestions, McGovern said he met with David Weatherbie, president of the Beach to Beacon board to discuss the fee proposal.

“I think everyone is on the same page,” McGovern said. “After the council makes a decision on Monday, (Weatherbie) will to go to his board and have a similar discussion.”

The proposal to set the race fee at $25,000 was based on the number of people who register for the race, those who are race supporters and the number of days the park is in use. Proceeds will be dedicated to the Fort Williams Park Capital Fund.

Weatherbie called the use fee proposal “reasonable.”

He said he understands there are park maintenance issues and concerns about how it will be funded in the future.

“I know the Fort Williams Advisory Commission has looked at the group use policy and I know it involves fees for weddings and other groups that use the park,” he said. “We are the largest group user for a single event and we do use a fair amount of the park starting on the Tuesday before the race.”

To pay $1 or $2 per person for one day is not that unreasonable for a group use fee, he said.

“If we have a $4-a-head fee, is that unreasonable from a Tuesday through Saturday? I’d take more issue if it was $10 or $15 per person,” he said. “This is reasonable to me.”

He said his board will discuss the proposal after the Town Council makes its decision. He said how the funds will be raised, “whether by increasing registration fees or allowing more participants is yet to be determined.”

Existing race registration fees help pay the town’s out-of-pocket expenses, McGovern said. The additional police, emergency medical technicians, fire and rescue staff and public works departments from South Portland, Scarborough, Portland and Falmouth can cost up to $20,000, he said.

“The very good news is that the fort will benefit from this,” McGovern said. “It is a fair and reasonable agreement and it is good that the money will benefit the park and park improvements.”

The council is also expected to discuss proposals to increase fees at the Recycling Center and for use of the Fort Williams Park picnic shelter.

Public Works Director Bob Malley, in a memorandum dated Dec. 1, proposed higher fees for disposal of microwaves, televisions, carpeting, computers, monitors and office equipment.

The proposal includes a $10 fee for microwave ovens; $15 for a console television and $5 for non-console televisions; $3 for all computers, monitors and office equipment, and $15 per roll of carpeting.

In a memorandum from the Fort Williams Advisory Commission, the proposal to increase picnic shelter rental fees is described as reflecting a more logical difference between full-day and half-day rentals.

“Some of the fees have been raised and some have been lowered to recognize the value, the amount of time being reserved and the affordability of the structure and/or location being reserved,” the memo says. “The proposal also provides a more normalized cost between residents, non-residents and businesses.”

The proposal would increase full-day rental fees for Cape residents to $150 from $100. Non-resident full-day fees will be reduced from $360 to $300; business and group fees will increase to $400 from $360, and fees for nonprofit organizations will increase to $300 from $240.

Changes are also proposed for half-day events and events scheduled after Labor Day.

The Dec. 13 meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall Council Chambers.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net

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