Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Roanoke Civic Center subsidy remains stable

Robyn Schon Roanoke Civic Center manager said that since the Roanoke Civic Center has been managed by Global Spectrum during the last four years the city’s subsidy has been reduced by 50 percent. The subsidy is expected to remain stable. “Decreasing the subsidy is a tricky one. We’ll never get to zero,” said Schon. By adding in the economic impact to the city of patron spending, the taxes generated helps make up for the subsidy so said city council at their joint meeting with the Roanoke Civic Center Commission on Monday.

Global Spectrum ended FY 2012 $180,924 better than budgeted. The subsidy was expected to be $637,606 but the short fall came in at $456,683. For 2012 there were 263 events that generated $2,079,885.

Capital improvements slated for the upcoming year include Plaza Exhibit Hall roof replacement, new exhibit hall doors, new handicapped lift and full facility lighting upgrades including parking lots and the marquees.

Pay to park may return at a nominal amount. Parking for the 1000 spaces could be purchased with tickets until all spaces are filled. Councilman Dave Trinkle thought that would be a good idea. After all the parking tickets were sold directions to garages and optional shuttle bus would then be communicated. Councilman Bill Bestpitch remarked that he had taken the shuttle and reached the parking garage before patrons in the parking lot were able to get to their cars. The bus gets priority traffic direction when leaving the lot.

Coliseum seats are expected to be replaced in 2015. The new HVAC system will save 30-50% in energy consumption that now costs $1 million annually. Council was pleased with the variety of events that have been offered and credited Global Spectrum’s elevated marketing and connections.

In other business:

Mill Mountain Advisory Committee Chairwoman Nancy Dye   told council that Mayor Bowers at a Sept. 27 meeting informed the 9 member committee that “the committee may be disbanded.” She was shocked and surprised.

A Virginia Tech professor in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences and a retired citizen and Army veteran stand ready to fill two vacant positions on the advisory committee said Dye. Councilman Dave Trinkle took issue with Dye’s statement that he had said in a phone call that the garden club was overrepresented on the committee. “I want to assure you the only active member of the garden club that’s served on the committee is the one required representative of Mill Mountain Garden Club,” said Dye.

Trinkle clarified his remark on diversity representation that he meant diversity of thought and background and not necessarily race. “I am not in support of disbanding this committee,” he said. Councilman Ray Ferris said the council was looking at the possibility of restructuring the committee “in a different way.” He suggested the committee function as a subcommittee reporting to the Parks and Recreation Department. Court Rosen made clear that disbanding the committee was not on city council’s table. “It is unfortunate that this maybe snowballed a little bit … the talk was of making it a subcommittee,” said Rosen. “The goal is not to minimize the mountain.”

Mayor Bowers made no comment on his remark to the committee nor did he say that he misspoke at their September meeting when warning them of impending disbandonment.

The former 1950 constructed health department building will be put out for bid taking into account input from the community but primarily based on long-term benefit to the city and raising tax revenue. Public input suggestions were for an art center and gallery space, a business incubator, senior center, residential housing, mixed-use and non-profit usage.

Non-profit usage was one of the options that Councilman Ferris discounted saying it was not a good idea. The 8th Street location already has many non-profit organizations. Mayor Bowers said he would remove himself from the discussion since there was an interest by Rebuilding Together a non-profit on which he serves on the board of directors. Council agreed that if after the 60-day solicitation for proposals produced less than desirable usage that the building would be then be put out for rebid.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Roanoke City Politics

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