Santa at Bancroft may have to relocate
Reason: Potential 167% hike in rental fees for Old Town park

       Despite City Parks' new restrictions on commercial dates and the probability of a 167 percent higher fee, interest in renting Bancroft Park in 2006 did not appear to have faded at a meeting of potential users Oct. 19 at the parks office.
       The one possible loss would be at Christmas, when the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants' group annually brings in Santa to meet children in Bancroft Park's Garvin Cabin Friday-Sunday through most of December. Based on concerns expressed at the meeting by Lynda Dunne, the OCCA's contracted event planner, the fee increase might force that activity to move elsewhere.
       JEI, a local crafter-support company that's impacted by both changes, is looking at starting its season in the spring next year (instead of in June) so as to get more days in, according to JEI owner Jackson Ivey. The new policy, directed by City Council last month and which JEI has argued against, limits rental of Bancroft for “retail sales events” to the fourth Thursday of each month. Under the old policy, which had no restrictions on how often different entities could use the park, JEI was able to rent it 12 Saturdays this year from June to September.
       The idea for 2006 is to open the park up to more non-retail uses, according to the new policy, which was spearheaded by Councilman Jerry Heimlicher, whose district includes Old Colorado City.
       Other than JEI and OCCA, which sponsors the annual Territory Days other interested groups are the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS), which puts on the Garden Fair and Founders Day; and the Farmers' Market, which has a separate arrangement with City Streets to close off 24th Street next to the park every summer Saturday from June to October.
       Parks Principal Analyst Mike McCauley asked the interested groups to come back with suggested dates by Nov. 1. For most city parks, that's when people can start reserving park dates on a first-come, first-served basis, but with the demand for Bancroft in recent years, the plan will be to review the date requests, then “schedule another meeting to resolve any conflicts,” he told meeting attendees.
       The rental fee at Bancroft this year was $75 a day. City Parks has proposed to City Council raising the fee to $200 a day. This would make Bancroft's fee the same as at other parks in the city, according to McCauley. Leaving it at $75 in 2005 “was a mistake,” he said.
       Smaller events, of 100 people or less, would cost $50.
       Council is scheduled to act on the new fee recommendations Nov. 22, he said.
       The $200 fee encompasses large parks as well as small ones such as Bancroft, which has no children's equipment, no playing fields and a porta john that serves as a handicapped restroom; however, Bancroft does have a gazebo and a bandshell.
       No Bancroft upgrades are planned in conjunction with the fee increase, McCauley said.

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