Fee Waiver for Liberty Plaza Proposed

A recommendation to waive park rental fees for Liberty Plaza was unanimously approved by the Ann Arbor park advisory commission at its June 18, 2013 meeting. The waiver, which requires city council approval, would be enacted on a one-year trial basis through July 1, 2014.

A staff memo accompanying the resolution describes Liberty Plaza – located on the southwest corner of Division and Liberty – as a problem park. The intent of waiving rental fees is to encourage activity there, such as the weekly Sonic Lunch series that’s sponsored by the Bank of Ann Arbor.  The memo states: “The waived rental fee can then be promoted with a goal of attracting additional musicians, performers, and other events at Liberty Plaza.”

The waiver also addresses a concern that has been raised regarding the “Pizza in the Park” event. At the May 20, 2013 Ann Arbor city council meeting, several people spoke to oppose the fee that was apparently charged to the Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor as part of its Friday evening homelessness ministry, which the church conducts at Liberty Plaza. At the council’s June 3 meeting, there was some follow-up during public commentary that included an interest in getting some kind of written commitment from the city that the fee would not be charged to the church.

The staff memo to PAC explicitly cites Pizza in the Park, noting that this waiver would assist that event and similar humanitarian efforts. The memo states that a waiver for all activities “would simultaneously remove the need for staff to determine which activities are worthy of waiving fees. Instead, any number of social, cultural, and recreational activities that are of benefit to the community could take advantage of the proposed fee waiver.”

This brief was filed from the second floor council chambers at city hall, where PAC holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link]