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The simple economics of managing and maintaining a public facility as large and complex as The Commons dictates that some sort of fee structure be in place to provide an adequate revenue stream.
Counterbalancing that reality is the need to make that facility as open as possible to the public.
Members of the board of directors of the city-owned Commons took a realistic and reasonable approach to that double-edged situation earlier this month by making adjustments to some of the policies adopted after the facility opened in 2011.
In a sense, the public became a victim to some of those original policies, especially in access to the viewing area in the Miller-Tangeman lobby where residents and visitors alike could observe the workings of Jean Tinguely’s iconic sculpture “Chaos.”
Unfortunately, that access to the viewing area has been denied on a significant number of occasions because of private events that were booked in The Commons performance space under the stipulation that the lower lobby could be included for an additional $100.
Amendments to that structure applied this month won’t change that situation immediately since they will only apply to future bookings, but they should provide more access in the years to come.
One of the major changes will apply to events in the lobby. The Commons board decided to temporarily stop closing the lower lobby for most events and to cease the practice of renting the lobby area for all weddings in the future. The group also elected to seek opinions from larger corporate renters of the public spaces and the holders of large, ticketed events as to whether the lobby needed to be closed during their use.
In another change, the board moved weddings and other noncharity events into the more expensive “for-profit” rental tier, raising prices for such events in other areas of The Commons by $125 to $500 over previous rates depending on the day of the week and the time of the event.
Those opinions and other reactions to these steps by The Commons board will be reviewed at future meetings, but a framework appears to be in place to maintain a revenue stream and keep an important community asset open to the public.
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