RDA still cool to potential PIC license fee rebate

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – They still don’t see it happening.

Representatives of the Plymouth Intergenerational Coalition met with the Redevelopment Authority Thursday to discuss PIC’s plans to apply for a liquor license for the Generations inter-generational center and it’s chances of getting a rebate of the $10,000 license fee.

The City Council has assigned the RDA the task of determining whether any of that state-mandated fee should be returned to a successful applicant. Several RDA members expressed their feeling that Generations and PIC would not meet the criteria the council had in mind for rebates.

“The City Council’s expressed intent was that there would be guidelines as to how the funds were to be distributed and they wanted the RDA to prioritize its efforts downtown,” RDA member and Alderperson Jackie Jarvis commented. “This is a total change in direction from the intent the council, I think, expressed in those guidelines.”

Marsha Vollbrecht, secretary of the PIC Board of Directors, explained why the group is exploring applying for the city’s last available class B liquor license.

“Part of our mission is to run this facility in a financially responsible manner so we can keep our rents low for our tenants,” Vollbrecht told the RDA. “Part of that includes maximum utilization of our facility and part of that is the ability to have large business meetings, weddings and other events” that would include serving liquor.

She reviewed the criteria the RDA has established to govern liquor license rebate requests as they apply to Generations.

Those include consistency with downtown design guidelines, economic impact and job creation.

She cited the partnership between the city and PIC as well as the number of jobs that were preserved by the various Generations tenants with the opening of the center.

“We’re asking for you to have the ability to look retrospectively and consider some of these things,” Vollbrecht told the RDA members.

“You’re talking about jobs created in the past tense and did not indicate anything new,” RDA member David Williams responded. “You have not indicated you’re going to create any new (jobs) through this liquor license. Your building is going to be there whether you have a liquor license or you do not have a liquor license.”

Vollbrecht said Generations officials are working on a pro forma business plan for the PIC board focusing on utilizing the liquor license to do bigger events. “That could impact FTEs (full-time jobs), though not greatly,” she said.

“That’s kind of a guess on your part. Maybe you’ll get four events a year, maybe 30 events a year,” RDA Chair Lee Gentine commented.

“You’re really talking about something significantly different from what the intent of the RDA was, to improve and enhance the downtown,” Gentine added. “The $10,000 reimbursement was based on creating a thriving downtown.”

Gentine suggested that PIC and Generations could seek other ways of generating revenue, such as fundraising events.

“One of the things we agreed with our original donors about was that we would not go back to the well,” PIC Director Joann Wieland answered. “We based our model on sustainability without continually doing that. We’ve tried to be very careful so we’re not asking the same people who helped us build the building to help with our operational expenses.”

Both she and Vollbrecht emphasized that the kinds of events Generations hopes to host would bring visitors into the city, many of whom would need lodging, gasoline, meals and otherwise contribute to the local economy.

The city granted a liquor license to the Plymouth Arts Center several years ago and rebated that license fee. But that action was taken by the City Council before it set up the RDA and charged the group with holding the fee amount and determining how and if it should be rebated, Gentine noted.

“I don’t want to see this RDA held to a precedent that was made before these rules were set,” he concluded.

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