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BSM agrees to sponsor HB concert — after the fact

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

The first in what is planned as monthly festivals at the Holmes Beach city field will likely be sponsored by a Bradenton Beach merchants group after all.

As of press time, the Jan. 27 event is pending a state liquor license and contract for an off-duty police officer at the event, according to the city clerk’s office. The 5 p.m.-10 p.m. event is expected to feature bands, vendors, food, beer and a G-rated movie in the city’s open field in the 5800-5900 block of Flotilla Drive.

Jo Ann Meilner, president of Bridge Street Merchants, said the BSM voted last week to enter into a contract with Island Festivals Inc. to sponsor the event.

“There is a permit process that has not been finalized,” Mayor Rich Bohnenberger told the city commission at its Jan. 17 meeting. The city requires the state liquor license approval, in addition to approvals from the mayor, police, fire district and public works department.

Meilner said Jan. 21 the BSM spoke to the state liquor licensing department, and its permit is in the works.

At the city commission meeting, she said the BSM agreed to supply the organization’s name for a liquor permit, and, in turn, receive profits from the beer sales, but otherwise had no affiliation with the event and no knowledge of who or what entity would be profiting.

On Jan. 21, however, she said she learned sponsorship of the liquor permit and the rest of the event could not be separated.

“For our special event license, the nonprofit has to apply for and hold the license for the event,” according to Sandi Copes Poreda, director of communications, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

In addition, state law requires a “bona fide nonprofit civic organization” sell alcoholic beverages, and that “all net profits from sales of alcoholic beverages” resulting from the permit be retained by the nonprofit civic organization. It also limits civic organizations to three such permits per calendar year.

Although sponsoring the entire Holmes Beach event was not what the Bradenton Beach merchants group initially agreed to do, Meilner said Jan. 21, “It’s too late to pull the plug.”

The event is being advertised by Island Festivals Inc., a for-profit corporation, according to the website of the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations. It lists Cynthia and Douglas Thompson as officers, both of 18th Avenue Northwest, Bradenton.

Advertisements indicate the concerts will include bands, vendors, food and a beer truck.

Thompson, who signed the city’s temporary use permit application on behalf of the Bridge Street Merchants, said her “goal is to help the businesses, tourists, residents and nonprofits.”

Thompson submitted her city application Jan. 10, but had already announced Dec. 27 that the concerts were planned for the last Friday of every month.

While the city field and gazebo will be used for the concert events, the mayor told commissioners Jan. 17 that the city “will not be sponsoring” the concerts.

At its Dec.13 meeting, commissioners had given a consensus for free concerts in the park. Under the mayor’s report, Bohnenberger said he had “found someone who is willing to organize a series, perhaps a monthly concert in the park at no cost to the city. These will not be major events, just simply bring your blanket or chair and enjoy the entertainment, bluegrass, jazz, rock, oldies, etc. If the commission is interested, I will pursue.”

Commissioner Jean Peelen said she asked for the Jan. 17 review because she didn’t remember any discussion of food vendors and a beer truck.

She also wondered about the similarity of this application to one submitted and rejected last year by Nancy Ambrose. It was pointed out that Ambrose sought a permit for a market on private property and the location presented safety concerns.

At the commission meeting, Bohnenberger said the city has no choice but to grant the Bridge Street Merchants’ request for the event. The mayor said it is mandatory for the city to issue the permit to nonprofit organizations. The city code states as follows:

“Notwithstanding the foregoing, it is the policy of the city of Holmes Beach to provide for and encourage the noncommercial use of the city-owned property adjacent to the city hall complex … solely for the benefit of the citizens of Holmes Beach.

“Accordingly, in addition to other requirements for temporary use permits, the following shall be required:

“Temporary use permits for the city field shall be issued to organizations which are active not-for-profit corporations….

“As a condition of permit issuance, the applicant shall be required to post one or more signs at the event. These signs shall state the percentage or amount of revenue the applicant is receiving from the event.”

Meilner said that although the BSM board gave approval for the liquor license for the event in exchange for profits, she only learned a contract between BSM and Island Festivals for the event had been signed Jan. 18 by vice president Caryn Hodge at the merchants Jan. 19 meeting.

BSM also learned that the organization is required by Island Festivals to manage and provide volunteers to run any booth selling alcoholic beverages and the beer truck.

BSM also will receive any profit resulting from the event after all expenses are paid, including 20 percent of the event profit to Island Festivals.

While the state regulations require all net profits from sales of alcoholic beverages be retained by the nonprofit organization, the contract between the BSM and Island Festivals is ambiguous as to who may be responsible for costs if the event is not profitable.

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