Park & Rec Developing New Fee Structure For Waveny House


Having reached the “break-even point” in terms of renting out the town-owned facility, the Park & Recreation Commission on Wednesday appointed a subcommittee to come up with a new fee structure for Waveny House, a popular venue for wedding receptions, bar mitzvahs and other social gatherings.

A recent rough analysis of the cost of operating the facility revealed that the revenues generated annually from renting it are almost offset by maintenance, repairs and other fixed costs, creating a “break even” situation.

Any new fee structure the subcommittee comes up with would be subject to an up or down vote from the full commission. As per the town website, the fee for use of Waveny House, including the patio and lawn immediately surrounding the house, for 10 hours on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday is $2,650 for non-residents, $1,500 for residents.

During the meeting, Steven Benko, recreation director, said the town has always had a policy of charging residents a lower fee for use of the facility, the feeling being that because residents pay taxes for the maintenance of the facility, they should get a break. He said currently about 60% of the people renting facility are from out of town, while about 40% are residents.

Sally Campbell, commission chairwoman, pointed out that practically everyone who tours Waveny House, when considering it as a venue for a reception or other event, decides to rent it. The reason? “Because it’s the cheapest game in town,” she said. “I recently attended a wedding there with a couple from Mew York, and they said it was by far the absolutely the cheapest facility they could find.”

“Obviously we have a great facility – and one that could be monetized a little better.”

“So, my recommendation, based on this review, is that over the next few months we come up with a new fee structure,” she said. “And when we do this, we need to look at all of the costs. We will do a better analysis. ”

“The good news is that the Waveny Conservancy group has a summer intern onboard who is doing a detailed analysis of all the facilities in the general area,” she added, indicating that the commission is considering what other, comparable facilities charge.

“We can’t set the rates unless we have the data,” Campbell said. “We need to know what a reasonable rate is.”

Benko said from what he has seen, most other comparable facilities are charging at least $3,000 for out of town residents.

Committee member Francesca Segalas pointed out that Waveny House could be closed at some point in the near-future for roof repairs as well as asbestos removal in the basement. She pointed out that if it is closed for improvements, it might be a good juncture for raising the fees.

Commission members Gene Goodman and Douglas Richardson have been charged with developing the new fee structure, with input from Benko.

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