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.