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Move Riverlink tent to golf course? Events already booked

Even before the issue was introduced at last Tuesday’s Recreation Committee meeting, Golf Course Concessionaire Laura Elmendorf said she was told the large tent that has been at Riverlink Park for several years was going to be moved to the golf course clubhouse, and she has already booked events for it.

The issue was brought up as council members discussed the future of the restaurant at Riverlink Park. According to Alderman Ed Russo, the operators of the facility will not be returning next year. The council discussed putting out a request for proposals for new operators, whether to purchase the previous operator’s restaurant equipment, and whether to move the large white special events tent from Riverlink Park to the municipal golf course.

Russo said the tent had only been used one or two times last year. Recreation Director Rob Spagnola agreed and explained that while the previous operator’s uncompromising standard of quality had made the Riverlink restaurant a success, it didn’t work as well for catering special events.

Spagnola said about the previous operator, “He stuck to his guns and that’s why he did develop that business. But on the other hand he did turn a lot of business away too, as far as events in the tent and things like that, because he wouldn’t compromise on the food, or the price, the quality of food he would serve.”

The city’s contract with the previous operator specified that the city would receive 10% of the revenue from any special event that used the tent.

Spagnola said that he had gotten a figure of $20,000 from City Engineer Rich Miller for creating a flat blacktop space near the clubhouse for the tent to go over, similar to what is already at Riverlink Park.

At one point in the discussion, Elmendorf asked,“What if we helped cover that cost, because we were told we were getting the tent, and we’ve already booked functions…I booked a wedding for next September, I booked a class reunion in July, because we were under the assumption that we were getting the tent.”

“We told you that?” asked Alderwoman Valerie Beekman.

“The city told me, representatives of the city,” said Elmendorf.

“We talked to her, all of us did,” said Barone. Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler also said she had talked to Elmendorf.

Spagnola also said, “It was my idea. I did ask her if she’d be interested and she said yes from the beginning. I do think you’d get a heck of a lot of use up there.”

Later, in regards to the $20,000 cost to to move the tent, Controller Matt Agresta asked, “Where’s that money going to come from?”

“We’ll figure it out,” replied Barone.

About Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of AnthemWebsites.com LLC which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.

8 Responses to Move Riverlink tent to golf course? Events already booked

  1. The tent is needed at Riverlink Park. It is the only shelter available from the weather in the summer and is the rain location for Riverlink Concerts. The tent has been used in that capacity in past concert seasons. It makes absolutely no sense to pay $20,000 just to move this tent to the golf course, which currently has no space large enough to accomodate it. It is better suited for events at Riverlink Park and was purchased for that purpose. Maybe it would be a better idea to move Laura Elmendorf’s business to Riverlink Park.

  2. diane says:

    In a discussion earlier today with Jerry, he also told me, that the original tent was purchased by the Waterfront Foundation for the park. The original tent apparently damaged during a flood, this tent which is larger was a replacement tent. Just food for thought and information that was not given to the council at the meeting. Jerry was on the Foundation and was aware of that info and the fact it is being used on rainy days for the concerts.

  3. Tim Becker says:

    If the council changes their mind about moving the tent to the golf course, could the city be liable for damages to Elmendorf? I imagine she’s taken deposits that would have to be refunded and cancelling dates would also damage her reputation.

    No one on the council should have given her any promises until the issue was discussed openly and actually *voted* on. Now they’re stuck.

    • The Common Council acts by ordinance and there was no such ordinance passed concerning the event tent, which is now the property of the city. While the Recreation Committee can make a recommendation to move the tent, it is the Council that must act to authorize the move. Recreation Director Rob Spagnola did admit it was HIS idea to move the tent to MUNI. The Recreation Committee and Recreation Department have no authority over MUNI and the Common Council saw fit to allow the Golf Commission to manage their own affairs. It is unfortunate If the concessionaire booked events for the tent prematurely. As I mentioned earlier, this tent is really needed at Riverlink Park.

  4. Alayne says:

    It is sad that Laura, once again, has fallen victim of the dysfunction of city hall. I hope there is some resolve for her sake.

    • Rob Millan says:

      When did she ‘fall victim’ the other times? Just curious as to why you would think a concessionaire would re-apply if she felt there was a history of ‘victimization.’

  5. The former tent was larger, not smaller, than the present tent.

    I had discussed possibly moving the tent with Rob Spagnola before leaving for vacation. It was an IDEA he was going to discuss with Ed Russo and Ron Barone. It was understood that this would also be discussed with the Recreation Commission and in committee.

    My questions are:
    Who offered this tent to Laura Elmendorf without going to the full council first?
    Why did she start booking events before having an agreement in place?

    It is uncertain that this can be moved at all because the original tent had been purchased through a grant over ten years ago (so that’s got to be investigated) and we need much more in the way of information (adequate Muni location, estimated costs, potential revenues, structure of agreements, etc.) before ANY decision can be made.

    This is another example of putting the cart before the horse.
    This is getting old.

  6. Lillian says:

    Here we go again. I hope come election time, the handful of voters who do exercise their right to vote, remember this as well. Eye wink deals, fingerpointing, bad decision making, etc. Hopefully Laura has a backup plan for booking events before officially having the resolution passed. Worse comes to worse, she can rent her own tent for these events. $20,000 to blacktop the Golf Course for the placement of the tent on “somewhat level ground” sounds like a want and not a need.