Windsor Center use rates a hot topic

Published 7:29 pm Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Clubs want discounts for new Windsor facility 

By Frederic Lee

Staff writer

WINDSOR — Event rates at the Windsor Town Center, open for a month, have become a sharply debated issue.

Brenda Stephenson, chairperson of the Windsor Center Advisory Board, approached the Town Council on Nov. 13 to ask for reduced rental rates for organizations that have donated money to the center. 

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Windsor Town Attorney Wallace Brittle expressed apprehension toward reduced center rates for certain groups, adding that if anything of the sort were to be implemented, the language would have to be as neutral as possible as to not display favoritism.  

Stephenson and Brittle made plans to meet and discuss options, while council decided to table any type of change pertaining to the rate schedule until January so that the incoming mayor and council members can be involved in the decision.  


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Currently, the full center is available for rental for $125 per hour, while the gym and meeting room have individual rates of $75 and $50 as well. There’s a three-hour minimum. 

During the meeting, Brittle suggested creating an ‘operational donor’ designation for those who donated to the center before a certain date, and then having only those donors be given certain benefits. Previously, he referenced gold and silver level designations as a possibility.

According to Stephenson, the Windsor Woman’s Club, in which she’s also involved, has given $6,700 to the Windsor Center, and that if the Woman’s Club was required to pay the regular fee, she wouldn’t work the event because the net gain wouldn’t be worth it. 

“I looked at the Woman’s Club in Smithfield,” said Stephenson; “Now if you go rent the Smithfield Center, it’s $2,600 for a Friday and Saturday. Those ladies are charged $1,200.”

Stephenson further pointed out that the Woman’s Club of Smithfield has a more lucrative event, and that at maximum they pay 12 percent of their income to rent their town center while the Windsor Woman’s Club would be paying “18 to 20 percent.”  

Amy Novak, Smithfield director of parks and recreation, said that the actual billing for the Woman’s Club flea market was $1,600, and that the club receives a lower than typical rate because the markets were scheduled as annual events in 2015 when the rates were lower. 

Novak added that all civic clubs based in Isle of Wight County receive a 50-percent discount of the resident rate for the center, but only during the week.  

“Any time you begin…to treat one person differently than another group of people,” said Brittle, “ this is what’s going to happen. Not only are you going to get into social mores…but it’s going to open up a whole other thing.” Brittle added that the municipal government could sue town officials “until their pants were on fire” if the discounted rate changes weren’t put into place properly.  

“We want to work with people who give back to our community, to the town,” said Windsor Mayor Rita Richardson earlier in the meeting, adding that “I know if we charged the Woman’s Club a regular fee, they wouldn’t make hardly any money…We will not have (the center) rented if the Woman’s Club has to pay for the amount of time they use it for their craft show, for example. They can’t do it,” she said. 

“We can’t afford it,” said Stephenson. 

“If you’re suggesting that (the Woman’s Club pay regular rates), then I’m done with it,” said Richardson. 

“If the 501(c)(3) board is just a puppet organization so that you guys can keep your fingers in (the center) and make sure that every little club that’s a pet club of yours gets the discount they want but my club doesn’t get it, than each council member’s going to be sued and the (advisory) board will be sued,” Brittle said later on. 

The council decided to keep rates the same except for those that have already been quoted at a lower price, in the case of the upcoming “Breakfast with Santa” event.  {/mprestriction}