Schenectady City Council to consider increasing block party fee

Wednesday, August 21, 2013
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— Getting room to party may soon cost more in Schenectady.

The City Council plans to hold a public hearing on the fee the city charges businesses to hold block parties.

Some downtown bars and restaurants close streets and parking lots for daylong events with outdoor bars and live music. They pay just $10 currently, but the events cost the city much more, as they station police to redirect traffic and keep crowds orderly and safe.

Council members are considering a fee ranging from $200 to $1,000, either as a flat fee or on a scale based on the size of the proposed party.

Bombers Burrito Bar owner Matt Baumgartner said he is hoping for $200.

“One thousand dollars is a little out of reach for small businesses,” he said. “Because we have the three restaurants, we would pay the $1,000, but I would feel sorry for the small businesses that couldn’t.”

He added that he has no objection to a fee that covers the city’s costs — that’s what he pays when he holds block parties in Albany.

“I can totally understand why they want to increase the fee. That seems fair,” he said.

Deputy Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico also suggested a flat rate of $200, calling it “reasonable” for businesses.

“[It’s] probably still a little bit below the city’s actual cost,” he added.

Council members didn’t like the sound of that.

“It costs a lot of money,” Councilwoman Denise Brucker said, “putting workers on overtime, usually on a Friday or Saturday night.”

Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo said the city needs to charge exactly what it spends.

“We’re talking about a tremendously huge revenue-generating event that is costing the city taxpayers,” she said. “To do that at the city’s cost is not fair to the city.”

The costs could vary widely. It’s far more expensive when Pinhead Susan’s blocks off the intersection of Liberty Street and Erie Boulevard than when Bomber’s closes off the small parking area in front of its downtown Schenectady storefront, Falotico said, So the council may agree to a fee range to handle all possibilities.

There are about five block parties for businesses each year, Falotico said, but Perazzo and Brucker are hoping that grows.

No matter what they decide, the Bombers parties are here to stay.

“I think block parties are fantastic,” Baumgartner said. ‘The customers love them. We would still do them even if we had to pay $1,000.”

A date for the public hearing has not yet been set.

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August 22, 2013
7:45 a.m.
wmarincic says...

If the city council came up with a stupid idea fee then the city could lower taxes. News flash, these block parties bring people to the city that buy and use city businesses that charge TAX and the city makes money. DUH!!! Why is it that the only plans liberal democrats have are to raise taxes. Other than Vince Riggi is there anyone on that council that has even once had an original idea?

August 22, 2013
8:47 p.m.
artbarb says...

Sales during the measurement timeframe:
# Street date sold price taxed value variance

1007 Maryland Av 2/23/2012 $140,000 $193,900 -28%
1170 Oxford Plc 5/19/2012 $101,000 $133,400 -24%
1211 Oxford Plc 12/12/2011 $129,000 $134,200 -4%
1029 Parkwood Blvd 5/15/2012 $126,000 $129,100 -2%
1178 Parkwood Blvd 10/4/2011 $85,000 $140,100 -39%
1150 Phoenix Ave 12/9/2011 $122,000 $163,900 -26%
714 Plymouth Ave 8/14/2012 $63,000 $114,800 -45%
1550 Randolph Rd 9/30/2011 $146,000 $175,600 -17%
1711 Randolph Rd 8/11/1932 $145,000 $157,800 -8%
7 Rosa Rd 5/21/2012 $103,000 $158,100 -35%
204 Rosa Rd 8/18/2011 $82,000 $110,000 -25%
1132 Rugby 3/21/2011 $191,000 $256,800 -26%
1156 Stratford Ave 2/27/2012 $200,000 $272,700 -27%
932 Strong 11/29/2011 $15,000 $42,100 -64%
1310 Summer Ave 10/31/2012 $116,000 $169,800 -32%
64 Union Ave 4/19/2012 $120,000 $176,500 -32%
1000 Union 5/17/2012 $218,500 $163,300 34%
1232 Union St Sold on 6/8/2012 $49,900 Tax assessment $142,000 -65%
1348 Union St Sold on 4/4/2012 $106,500 Tax assessment $154,200 -31%
851 Union St. 2/7/2012 $83,500 $122,800 -32%
1140 Van Curler Ave 1/6/2012 $122,000 $128,900 -5%
113 Walnut St 11/7/2011 $26,000 $60,500 -57%
1061 Waverly Pl 9/16/2011 $139,000 $153,300 -9%
1122 Waverly Pl Sold on 4/27/2012 $118,000 Tax assessment $146,900 -20%
1189 Waverly Pl Sold on 6/14/2012 $106,500 Tax assessment $126,500 -16%
1298 Waverly Pl Sold on 1/17/2012 $98,000 Tax assessment $160,200 -39%
1125 Wendell Ave 1/19/2012 $176,000 $207,600 -15%
118 Western Pkwy 11/22/2011 $39,000 $60,500 -36%

August 24, 2013
7:14 p.m.
robbump says...

Block parties (with associated street closings) should be confined to events where there is a social, cultural or education component of the event, such as the Jay Street Italian festival. -- or when an entire group of neighbors wish a party.
Inconvenience to the public from closed streets, etc., should not be at the benefit of one or two businesses, so that they can effectively double, or even quintuple their serving space. They should have built that big if that's the customer base they are targeting. The streets belong to ALL, not to one or two bars.
Not considered is the cost to society of subsequent crashes (I never call them "accidents") -- since most of the block parties are really booze parties.

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