Outdoor venue drives Barker’s Island battleSpecial event permits sought by the Barker’s Island Inn is creating consternation between neighbors on the island.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Special event permits sought by the Barker’s Island Inn is creating consternation between neighbors on the island.
For Kent Oliver, owner of the hotel and convention center, the permit is necessary to hold eight outdoor weddings on an outdoor patio and is crucial for business. The hotel booked eight weddings to take place this summer on the patio.
However, for the managers of the city-owned marina, the threat of loud music running past 10 p.m. could cost the city-owned marina customers.
“I was a little shocked and dismayed when we had received a letter from the city attorney concerning our tent operation, that there was some issues with respect to the code,” Oliver told city councilors Tuesday night.
While the hotel owner had planned a full-blown expansion of its convention center before financial resources dried up with the economy in 2008, Oliver said the hotel developed an alternate plan to accommodate customers — the outdoor patio and an event tent.
“We want to make Barker’s Island a premier wedding destination,” his son, Seth Oliver said.
The elder Oliver said he wasn’t aware the hotel’s cabaret license does not permit amplified music beyond 10 p.m., even on weekends, without a special event permit.
Last year, four weddings held outside the hotel adjacent to the marina prompted some of the floating community’s residents to leave, said Sailboats Inc. manager, Joe Radtke.
Charlie Johnson, general manager of Barker’s Island, applied for the permit for nine events between June 23 and Aug. 25. The special events include eight wedding receptions booked for the outdoor patio, featuring music provided by disc jockeys, and a band to perform the weekend of the Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival. Only the festival band hasn’t been booked.
That’s the summer, Radtke said. He said people who come to the marina would be denied the opportunity to enjoy the time on their boats if the council issued the special event permits.
Among his concerns were noise, loud music and people taking walks on the docks and invading the privacy of boat owners who use the city-owned marina.
Radtke asked the council to defer the issue to committee for careful review because losing marina customers would directly impact city revenue — Sailboats Inc. leases the marina from the city — and getting those customers back could take years.
Johnson said the hotel would earn about $70,000 for the booked events — $7,000 in taxes for the city — as well as bring people to the community and create 10 new jobs for the summer.
However, Dave Clark of Cotton, Minn., a 12-year user of the marina is hoping it’s an issue that can be settled soon. After all, his wedding is among those booked for this summer on the outdoor patio.
“I sure hope this can happen,” Clark told members of the council Tuesday night. “It would be a shame if it didn’t. We have 300 people who will probably show up for this event, and that’s a big impact on the island.”
While the permit application sought to allow amplified music until midnight, Radtke said 10 p.m. was a much more appropriate time — a time established in a variety of communities that regulate noise.
Johnson was willing to meet the marina manager halfway, ending the music at 11 p.m.
“We’re willing to do some things to accommodate,” such as positioning the DJ so music is directed away from the marina, Johnson said. He said it would also be an option to turn down the music or end the music before midnight, in some cases.
Councilors referred the issue to a special License and Fees Committee meeting Thursday.
And, Johnson, Oliver and Radtke met Wednesday to try to bring about a compromise that would work for both businesses.
The only issue that couldn’t be resolved was when music would end for the night, Johnson said.
After more than an hour of discussion Thursday, the committee recommended approving the special event permits for this year with the provision music ends by 11 p.m.
“We’re going to do as much as we can to control those volume levels,” Johnson said.
Barker’s Island Inn management also agreed not to book additional weddings for 2013 — a concern repeatedly expressed by Radtke until there is some clear direction on what to expect from the city.
“Ideally, we need to have a red light or green light to know if we can do this next year,” said Seth Oliver.
Councilor Dan Olson said the impetus is now on the License and Fees Committee to address a variety of issues that arose during the debate — from noise to creating an application for multiple special event permits — to resolve the issues.
“We need to address these issues, whether they’re going to be permissible and hear what the rules are from the License and Fees Committee,” Olson said. He said the rules should be palatable to all parties and make it clear what people can expect. He also said the committee should consider creating a special event permit in the future that covers multiple events.
“In some cases, we’ve got to adjust to the things around us,” Olson said. “… Some things we need to adapt to, to adjust to and this will be all resolved again.”