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Council impasse reached on concession stand lease renewal



— For now, a Lions Park concession stand lease renewal for Grangeville Youth Baseball stands in limbo as the city council last week reached an impasse regarding policy consistency and the issue of conducting commerce on municipal property.

Last Monday’s discussion continued the matter from its introduction at the June 5 council meeting, initially to focus on issues with the expired five-year lease regarding subleasing by GYB and additional commerce being conducted outside the city-owned structure. While the second issue – specifically the operation of a snow cone business next to the stand; since addressed and subsequently discontinued – was resolved, the sticking point in council discussion at both meetings revolved around subleasing as it involved a private business, Shiznits, servicing the concession stand.

“That was never intended to be a for-profit booth,” Mayor Bruce Walker said in initial discussions June 5. City policy prohibits private commerce on city property. Concern by Walker and Councilor Wes Lester was allowing this activity breaks with precedent, opening the door for anyone requesting it to set up and sell for profit on city property.

Explaining how the sublease issue came about, Councilor Amy Farris, who is a volunteer with GYB, said the youth baseball organization was unable to run the stand due to a lack of participation and that concessions operations lost them money every year. The stand is important to families who, during the youth baseball season, are there four nights a week usually from 4 to 9 p.m. Seeking an outside alternative, GYB had interest only from Shiznits who, she said, gives 10 percent of its profit back to GYB.

“At the end of the day, with the costs of everything, they make about $12 a day,” Farris said. “They’re not in it to make a buck. They’re in it for the kids.”

Through discussion at both meetings, Councilor Beryl Grant held to letting GYB decide who it would have operate the stand. The city doesn’t micromanage such decisions in exceptions it grants, such as concessions at the rodeo grounds, “so why do we with this one?”

As part of this, council discussion veered into the problem with public participation. Mayor Walker expressed puzzlement on the lack of volunteers for GYB, and considered whether allowing the stand to close for lack of volunteerism would wake people on the need to volunteer. Grant replied, “We can’t change society … these are just the times we live in. We can’t go backwards.”

In last week’s action, Councilor Pete Lane put up a revision to the lease that addressed first seeking a non-profit to run the stand, and in the event that failed, to advertise for a for-profit Grangeville-only business. Part of this addressed Lane’s transparency concern that the concession opportunity be made publicly available. That motion failed for lack of a second, followed up by a revised motion by Councilor Scott Winkler that reintroduced Lane’s motion and included a 10 percent revenue fee on for-profit entities. In a rare spilt, councilors Winkler, Lane and Peterson voted yes, with Grant, Lester and Farris voting no; Mayor Walker cast the deciding no vote.



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