2015-01-09 / Community

Waterhouse advertising topic of debate

Officials discuss methods for making use of ice and Zamboni space
By Duke Harrington
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — With the newly opened Waterhouse Center turning out to be a sort of crown jewel of the downtown area, policies and procedures are falling into place over its operation. However, the use of advertising at the openair complex, including the placement of sponsor logos at center ice during the winter skating season, remains something that is very much up in the air.

“We don’t want to commercialize it too much,” said Selectman Al Searles, at the board’s most recent meeting, Dec. 9.

“It is an elegant building, and we don’t want to have it turn into a sort of Las Vegas strip,” said Town Manager Barry Tibbetts, referring to the possibility of so-called go-go lights splashing sponsor logos across the complex. “However, the idea was that it would have as minimal impact to the [property] taxes as possible.

Operating expenses at the site, including electricity, water, waste removal and maintenance, is expected to top $9,000 per year.

“We need to find a way to pay for all of those things. I just want to make sure we don’t step on anyone’s toes who has already contributed a large amount,” said Selectman Christopher Cluff.

Already, Kennebunk Savings has contributed $75,000 to have the company’s logo embossed in the ice at the center line for three years. Duffy’s Tavern and Northeast Coating Technologies have also paid $50,000 each to have their logos put in the ice and on the Zambonis.

Permanent plaques will be placed onsite with the names of other donors who made construction possible, while Tibbetts is pushing a “buy-a-brick” program that will sell engraved paving stones at rates from $100 to $1,000, to be installed this spring.

However, selectmen did not seem to be as hip to that idea as Tibbetts at their recent meeting. They also waffled on allowing advertising on the online streaming video of the ice arena, while the go-go lights concept also drew some criticism.

“If I was paying $75,000 to have my logo at center ice, I might be a little upset to see five or six other logos cluttering up the space,” said Searles.

“But keep in mind, these would not be embedded in the ice, they’d be logos shown on the ice that people would skate through,” said Tibbetts.

A three-person subcommittee, made up of Selectmen Chuff, Searles and Chairman Kevin Donovan, met Dec. 15 to debate advertising rules. Their recommendations will be presented to the full board at its next meeting on Jan. 13.

At their Dec. 9 meeting, by unanimous vote, the selectmen did set a number of fees and instituted policies, including rules for food vendors. Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said Monday that applications have been received for two of the four available spots.

“I didn’t know what to expect to be honest, but two is great,” said Tibbetts. “It’s a nice start. The only question is, how soon we can get them in there?”

The board is scheduled to vote on approval of the required license at the Jan. 13 meeting. Tibbetts said he does not believe the $800 fee for the year-long mobile vendor license — not including a nonrefundable $50 application fee and a $150 required victualer’s license — factored into the failure to draw applicants for all four available spots. For one thing, he noted, selectmen have previously voted to allow the fee to be paid over time, rather than in one lump sum, up front.

Kennebunk voters approved an updated peddler’s ordinance, which authorizes the four vendor spots, at a special town meeting referendum vote on Dec. 9. Turnout, however, was extremely low, due to a winter storm on voting day.

The final tally of 99 in favor, 33 against, came to “a little better than 1 percent” of registered voters in Kennebunk, according to Town Clerk Merton Brown.

Other fees recently approved by selectmen include $1,000 for commercial usage of the site and $200 for use by a nonprofit organization. Selectmen have also deemed that if renters require use of the site’s audio-visual systems, they must retain a trained staff operator at $200 for up to four hours, and $50 per hour thereafter.

The site will not be rented out during the skating season, from November to March, when it is used as a public arena.

Selectmen voted Dec. 9 to allow food and non-alcoholic beverages to be served by site renters. Alcohol may be served if approved by selectmen. However, that approval requires applying three months in advance and a public hearing before selectmen will sign off.

Selectmen also agreed that no vehicles will be allowed in the complex, except as expressly approved by the town.

Although advertising rules have yet to be settled, town officials have declared the Waterhouse Center to be a great success during its first months of operation.

“It’s been way beyond my wildest expectations,” said Tibbetts. “It was packed over Christmas break and it was really, really nice to see all the kids skating there. Everything has gone very well and there have been no real issues.”

Return to top