Hobart Park Board concerned about Pennsy Station rentals
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent August 14, 2012 2:18PM
The Pennsy Station building is home to the Hobart Chamber of Commerce. | File~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 16, 2012 6:14AM
HOBART — The Park Board wants the city attorney to take another look at the city’s lease agreement with the Hobart Chamber of Commerce for its offices in Pennsy Depot, expressing concern over liability and rental issues.
The chamber leases the building at 1001 Lillian St., which Parks Superintendent John Mitchell said was park property, for $1 a year under a 40-year contract between the city and chamber crafted under former Mayor Linda Buzinec’s reign.
But Park Board member Charlotte Sills had several questions regarding the lease at Monday night’s Park Board meeting, including where the proceeds go when the chamber rents the property.
“I want to know where the money is going. Do they have money set aside in case something is damaged? Do they have liability insurance in case someone gets injured? Who would be sued if someone gets injured?” Sills said.
Sills said she doesn’t know how much the chamber makes from its rentals, adding that a Pennsy Depot rental takes away from the Park Department’s Festival Park Community Center, which was built for rental use.
She said the chamber building had been rented out all last weekend.
“If they’re bringing in revenue, it needs to be addressed by the Park Board,” board member Sergio Mendoza said.
He said it might be time to draw up a new contract.
Mike Adams, executive director of the chamber, said he would be open to the city looking at the contract.
“If the city asked, how can I say no? We’re part of the city,” Adams said. “We’re in the same boat with the city and the Park Department. We swim together.”
Adams said the chamber has liability insurance and the proceeds from its rentals go to the chamber’s general fund. He said local organizations such as the Lions and Rebuilding Together hold their meetings there for free.
Mitchell said the Park Department maintains the grounds at the chamber office but not the interior of the building.
Adams said the city was deeded the 100-year-old building and given money for its major maintenance needs in 1986 by the not-for-profit organization Save Our Station, which brought the building back from disrepair. He said about $18,000 of that money remains in the city coffers, some of which will be used to reseal the parking lot.
“The chamber picked up a lot of the costs for interior maintenance,” he said.
The chamber moved into the building in 2005.
In other matters, Sandy O’Brien, a member of the Friends of Robinson Lake, pointed out it is time to apply for coastal grant money to be doled out in 2013 and there are several projects involving Robinson Lake that could qualify, including shoreline restoration.
Shoreline restoration at the park is one of six projects listed in the Park Board’s 2010 master plan.
Board members suggested she talk to Director of Development Denarie Kane and City Planner A.J. Bytnar about the program as they are on the program’s mailing list.
Mitchell reported the hot summer made for some cool profits at the Hobart Community Pool, which closed Saturday. He said as of the end of July, the pool took in $33,000, which is about $15,000 more than it did last year.