BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Under a new proposed lease with the city, RiverFest organizer Charles Craft will pay 1,500% more to use Riverview Park for the burgeoning summer festival.
The 1,500% amounts to just $375 for the year. Craft was paying $25 to the city for the rental of the park for the four-day event for the past three years. Under the new contract, Craft will pay $400 for the park.
The city and Craft have been working on a lease agreement for use of the park. City Manager David Varley told the Fort Madison Parks Board at its meeting on Wednesday night, that the proposed agreement is a one-year deal.
“We’re asking you to approve this as a one-year agreement with the intent that in 2020 the parties would enter into a multi-year agreement,” Varley said.
The board approved the agreement with a 4-0 vote.
Craft said Wednesday he didn’t have a problem with the increased fee, but said he would have liked to have seen the lease before the park board approved it.
“I’ve been asking (Varley) for a lease agreement since October. I’ve stopped in to see it several times and they tell me it’s not ready or it’s close to being ready. Then, almost overnight, it shows up in front of the board,” Craft said.
“It’s not the dollar amount in the lease, I think that’s a fair amount to pay. It’s the precedent that it sets. Are we encouraging people to do things in the community or discouraging them. This seems discouraging to me. It’s patently geared toward us and not anyone else that uses the park.”
Varley said at the meeting he had spoken with Craft about the new lease, but not about the new rates.
Craft has also paid a utility bill for the festival to the city for electricity and water used based on city analysis of usage during the four days. This year Craft said the festival may provide their own electrical service and metering.
The city has also added a $1,000 deposit for utilities and Craft said he was unaware of any requests for a deposit.
He said for the past three years he received large electrical bills. With the carnival providing their own electricity through generators, he wasn’t sure how the bills were being assessed.
The festival this year runs Aug. 1-4. The RiverFest Reveal Party is March 2 at Kinnick South where this year’s entertainment lineup will be announced, along with ticket giveaways and other promotions.
In other action, the board;
• voted to allow Rodeo Park roadways to remain open year round during regular park hours.
• discussed the rehabbing or demolishing of the pressbox at Victory Field
• approved a new park shelter agreement. The new agreement holds rental rates the same, but eliminates some of the shelter houses that need to be rented. The others will be first-come, first serve. Those shelters include: Johnson Shelter in Central Park, Ivanhoe Shelter, and all Rodeo Park Shelters with the exception of Old Lions’ Shelter, which still requires rental.