South Alabama British Car Club's British Car Festival has been a fixture at Fairhope Beach Park since 1999. Every October (or November some years) we made arrangements with the City of Fairhope to use the park for the public event. Note, I said "public", not "private".
This event has been carried on the city's events calendar on their visitors web site almost since the city had such a presence. Our out of town visitors spend money with the merchants of the city and the event is almost always covered by the local news media. Should be a win for Fairhope - right?
Last year, our club representative for affairs with the city received a letter stating that ALL requests for use of the park by any entity - non profit or otherwise - will be subject to a use fee for the facility. The only exemption was for schools located in the city. While I personally do not oppose reasonable charges for the use of a lovely facility like this, I believe that the city has gone overboard with this ordinance.
As it stands, the fees that the city wants to extract from the day's proceeds approach $500.00. On a shoestring budgeted event like ours, that is a real impact. Bear in mind that over the years the Festival has been conducted there, SABCC raised nearly $10,000.00 for a diverse group of charities. Early on, the club invited the local fire department and, later, Fairhope High's band to serve lunch at the show to help them in their fundraising efforts.
Fairhope is under financial duress (as are many other cities) to the point that they've instituted a city sales tax - the first in the city's history. However, an event that brings money-spending visitors to the city should not be forced to bear the burden of the results of questionable government actions that brought this beautiful village on the bay to this condition, in my opinion.
Stay tuned for more developments on this subject.