ROYAL OAK (WWJ) –  The Royal Oak Commission postponed for one week after considering  amendments on the contract for the  summer-time festival Arts Beats and Eats.

The contract amendments would include expanding the festival to add at least two more streets, increasing parking prices and extending its contract with festival organizers for six years.

City resident Rick Karlowski, addressing the council, said talking about an extension after just one year of having the festival in downtown Royal Oak is premature.

“I  mean, that’d be like extending the contract of a coach because he had one winning season. We had perfect weather at a new venue, we had record crowds and we made a little bit of money,” Karlowski said. “What happens if we, you know, if the people don’t come back because they didn’t like the parking, they didn’t like this, or we get a rainy day or something like that?”

Addressing the council, event promoter Jonathon Witz defended the Arts Beats and Eats event, pointing out its successful run of 13 years in Pontiac, through rain and shine.

“We are not a one hit wonder. We’ve been operating for one year in Royal Oak but we have a 13 year tradition. And we’ve made it through bad weather and you know, marriages go for better and for worse,” Witz said. “I think we certainally had an optimal year. But it’s not like, you know, if we had a little bit of rain that you wouldn’t want us back the next year when the sun was shining.”

After the meeting, Witz talked to WWJ about other concerns that have been raised about the event.

On the topic of extending the contract’s length, Witz said the event was a success and downtown businesses want to keep it, so when the city approached him, it just made sense.

Witz said that expanding a few blocks will generate an additional $500,000 for the city. The proposed expanded area is in the direction of businesses, not the residential area surrounding it.

As for the parking fee rumors, the proposal being considered is to allow a price change after the next three years to account for inflation and escalating costs of policing the event. However, for the next three years the price is fixed at last year’s rate.

Regardless of how the decision goes, the current contract has four more years on it and Arts Beats and Eats will be back in Royal Oak this year.


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