Village hopes charging fees will ‘encourage’ more events

CHATHAM–The Village Board has approved fees for the use of municipal properties, including a $1,000 fee for closing Main Street for events and $550 fee for closing Park Row. At the meeting last week where the charges were adopted, several trustees said that they might revisit the fees in the future.

“The fees should be set to encourage the use of village property, to encourage businesses [and] organizations to come to the village to hold events,” Mayor Tom Curran said in statement at the May 25 meeting before voting to set the fees. He proposed a one-day use cost for the second floor of the Tracy Memorial/Village Hall at $30 and the full building for $60. Use of the gazebo and the green space around it would cost $30, and to use the parking lot at Depot Square would cost $75. Using the parking lot near the Tracy Memorial would cost $75. The Village and the Town of Chatham jointly own the lot at the north end of Main Street.

Several members of CABA (Chatham Area Business and Arts) attended the meeting to voice their concerns about the fees. CABA President Tom Chulak said that Chatham would be the only village in the area to impose fees to use municipal space. He said that having these fees would have consequences on future events in the village.

Mayor Curran said that it was his understanding under state law that the village cannot give away municipal services so he assumed other villages are not following the law if they do not charge for use of municipal streets and buildings for non-government events. “The village cannot gift taxpayer services,” said Mayor Curran.

“It’s mostly the police,” Mayor Curran said of the fees for closing the street. There is also a cost to the village for the Department of Public Works clean-up after events.

Tom Crowell, an owner of Chatham Brewing, which hosts yearly events in the parking lot near the Tracy Memorial, said he understood a need for fees for the use of services but said that in other local municipalities have put in place a nominal fee to meet the requirements of state law, like the $1 fee the Village of Kinderhook charges for use of municipal properties for community events.

He stressed that many other municipalities in the county host community days and other events, adding that making the fee low shows that the other villages are “supporting village-wide events.”

Mr. Chulak made the point that CABA sponsored events, like Summerfest, are part of the community. He asked the board “whether the village wants to be a sponsor of some to these events.”

Trustee Jay Rippel said that he had heard concerns from the village residents about using village services for events on Main Street. “The business owners are profiting for a day that we pay extra services for,” Mr. Rippel said.

Mr. Chulak pointed out that businesses on Main Street bring revenue to the village through sales taxes.

Trustee Mike Wollowitz said, “We’ve got to get something on the books.” But he and Trustee Gunnar Wordon both said they would pass these fees now and revisit them after a year.

Also at the meeting:

• The board appointed Erin Costa building inspector effective immediately at a salary of $750 per month

• Village Clerk Debra Meyer was appointed temporary secretary for the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals Secretary, a job Ms. Costa used to have. The appointment will last until the Village Board names a permanent replacement.

The next Village Board meeting will be Thursday, June 8 at 7 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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