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04/12/2016

Fees for some group, commercial uses of Fort Williams Park to increase in 2017 season

Fees for some users of areas and amenities at Fort Williams Park will be $5-$15 more in the 2017 season.

The Town Council on April 11, 2016 approved the hike, primarily for use of the picnic shelter and Ship Cove platform after Dec. 1. The increase will also affect buses and trolleys parking at Portland Head Light, but less than what was recommended by the Fort Williams Advisory Commission.

The average increase for selected fees is 10 percent, and includes a $10 (20-percent) increase in the $40 fee for tour buses to park at Portland Head Light, located within the park. Companies that assist with invoicing and promoting the lighthouse gift shop would also see a $10 (22 percent) increase in the $35 fee they are charged. The commission had recommended a $15 for each, the first since the fees for tour buses and trolleys were established in 2012. [news article]. Other miscellaneous fees were last updated in 2012. [news article]

"I'm inclined to compromise," said Councilor Sara Lennon, seeking to balance the need to raise funds for the park and the need to accommodate companies that bring tourists and customers to the Portland Head Light gift shop and museum each season.

The latter was supported by Jeanne Gross, director of the museum and gift shop at Portland Head Light, who said the commission's proposals for tour buses and trolleys seemed "excessive".

"Ever since the parking fee was initiated in 2012 there has been constant, negative, feedback from the tour operators," Gross said in an email to Town Manager Michael McGovern. "Our department is responsible for collecting the parking fees and we have to very carefully and respectfully deal with these disgruntled tour companies." She suggested a $50 fee, with an assurance that it will remain for the next five years, more palatable to tour bus companies whose passengers "contribute heavily to profits at the gift shop."

The fee so far this fiscal year has generated $43,000, said McGovern. The increases recommended by the Fort Williams Advisory Commission would have added $10,000-$15,000 to that in 2017, depending on the tourist season, he said. The approved increase would add approximately $7,000-$10,000.

The advisory commission sought higher increases for tour buses and other commercial visitors because of their relative ability to pay, said Mark Russell, commission chairman. "We didn't (dramatically) raise fees on people who are having a picnic there, but for people who are bringing other individuals into the park and generating their own revenue from that, we felt that that was a place that we could go," he said. "I don't mean to be trite but, when (bank robber) Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks he said 'that's where the money is'. This is where the money is in the park," Russell said.

Two town council goals for this year are to review opportunities to provide additional revenue at Fort Williams Park, and to review revenues from sources other than the property tax. Russell said the commission reached its recommendations incorporating comments from town staff, from people who collect the fees, and from the town council.

Voting against the slate of increases was Councilor Kathy Ray, this year's finance committee chair, who said the council should remember its goal to increase revenue. "There has (also) been discussion about parking fees at the Fort, and, I think we are all clear - although we don't have the exact numbers - that the Fort costs us more than it's bringing in for revenue," Ray said. She said she believed the commission's recommended increases were fairly small, and that the town should look to increasing revenues to what it can.

Other councilors, however, said they believed that a smaller increase for buses and trolleys would pay off in good will. Lennon said increases comparable to those recommended for other areas of the park would be easier for lighthouse staff to defend, and "it doesn't seem like a big swing in revenue."

Here are the fee increases approved by the town council, effective Dec. 1, 2016:

Fort Williams Park
Reservation Fee Schedule 
 
Picnic Shelter Fee Schedule Current Fee New Fee
Eff. 12/1/2012 Eff. 12/1/2016
Cape Elizabeth Residents
Full Day (Non Business) $150.00 $160.00
Half Day (Non Business) (AM or PM) $75.00 $80.00
Half Day (Non Business) - PM After Labor Day $50.00 $55.00
Non Residents
Full Day (Non Business) $300.00 $310.00
Half Day (Non Business) (AM or PM) $150.00 $155.00
Half Day (Non Business) - PM After Labor Day $125.00 $130.00
Businesses & Groups (For Profit)
Full Day $400.00 $450.00
Half Day (AM or PM) $200.00 $225.00
Half Day - PM After Labor Day $175.00 $200.00
Non-Profit Organizations (501 C 3)
Full Day $300.00 $310.00
Half Day (AM or PM) $150.00 $155.00
Half Day - PM After Labor Day $125.00 $130.00
Ship Cove Platform Fee Schedule
Cape Elizabeth Residents
Full Day (Non Business) $75.00 $85.00
Half Day (Non Business) (AM or PM) $50.00 $55.00
Half Day (Non Business) - PM After Labor Day $40.00 $45.00
Non Residents
Full Day (Non Business) $150.00 $160.00
Half Day (Non Business) (AM or PM) $100.00 $105.00
Half Day (Non Business) - PM After Labor Day $60.00 $65.00
Businesses & Groups (For Profit)
Full Day $200.00 $210.00
Half Day (AM or PM) $100.00 $105.00
Half Day - PM After Labor Day $75.00 $80.00
Non-Profit Organizations (501 C 3)
Full Day $150.00 $160.00
Half Day (AM or PM) $100.00 $105.00
Half Day - PM After Labor Day $60.00 $65.00
Half Day Rentals - AM reservations start at sunrise with departure no later than 1:30 PM.
                             PM reservations start at 3:00 PM with departure no later than sunset*
*PM Reservations after Labor Day will be at a reduced rate due to the earlier sunset.
Bandstand & Stone Gazebo 
(Time of use same as above for 1/2 day rentals)
Cape Elizabeth Residents
Per hour with a two hour minimum $15.00 $15.00
Non-Residents, Businesses, Non-Profits & Groups
Per hour with a two hour minimum $20.00 $20.00
Area Fee (Applies to Car/Vehicle Group Use Fee)
Applies to any group use that uses one of the major areas of the Park,
including, but not limited to: Battery Knoll, the
Meadow, the Green, Parade Grounds, Firehouse
Hill and Cliffside
Full Day $600.00 $700.00
Half Day $400.00 $500.00
Security Deposit For All Area Fee Rentals $250.00 $250.00
Surcharge for Group Uses approved to serve 
alcoholic beverages $500.00 $500.00
Security Deposit For All Facility Rentals $50.00 $50.00
Group Use Fees
Events that are people intensive - Per FWAC $5.00/per. $5.00/per.
Events that are vehicle intensive - Per FWAC $10.00/veh. $10.00/veh.
Location Fee
Applies to the use of the Park as a site for advertising, commercial photography and/or filming
Maine-based Company
Single Event, Maine-based Company - Still Photography $250.00 $250.00
Per Day, Maine-based Company - Still Photography $750.00 $750.00
Per Day, Maine-based Company - Motion Photography $1,000.00 $1,000.00
Any other Company
Single Event, Out-of-State Company - Single Event $500.00 $500.00
Per Day, Out-of-State Company - Still Photography $1,500.00 $1,500.00
Per Day, Out-of-State Company - Motion Photography $1,750.00 $2,000.00
"Company" is defined as the client, not the production company
For any filming activity that has a significant impact on the public's enjoyment of the Park, a special fee 
may be negotiated with the Town Manager or his/her designee.
Tour Van, Tour Bus & Trolley Fees 
Commercially-Operated Passenger Tour Vans $20.00/visit $25.00/visit
Commercially-Operated Passenger Tour Vans - 30 Visits+ $500/van/seas. $550/van/seas.
Tour/Cruise Ship Buses $40.00/visit $50.00/visit
Fee if pre-approved billing and promotion of PHL $35.00/visit $45.00/visit
Trolleys - 30 Visits+ $1,500/season $1,700/season
Wedding Ceremonies $150.00 $175.00
 
Special Group Use Fees
Beach to Beacon Race - Annual Use Fee* $25,000.00 $25,000.00
*Effective through (and including) the 2018 race event