Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Amphitheater Decision Delayed until Public Hearings

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Amphitheater Decision Delayed until Public Hearings

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRISTINA ABEL

After listening to the complaints and concerns of about 15 residents about the management company that was selected to run the St. Augustine amphitheater, the St. Johns County Commission has decided to hold public workshops on the issue before any contracts are finalized.

The people expressed concerns about how much non-profit art and cultural organizations will have to pay to rent the newly renovated amphitheater and whether they'll be able to afford the cost.

About 75 people in the audience at Tuesday's commission meeting stood up to show their support for the local groups.

Philip McDaniel, president of the county's Cultural Council, said he and others are concerned about the access that groups like the Farmers Market and the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival will have to the amphitheater under the new management firm, Signature Entertainment and Sports of Ponte Vedra Beach. The commission picked Signature to run the amphitheater Oct. 9, but a contract has yet to be negotiated by the County Attorney's Office.

In its proposal to the county, Signature said non-profit groups would receive a 30-percent discount on their rental fee, which would result in a charge of $4,200 a day.

McDaniel said that in the past, those groups would pay $500 to $1,000 to use the amphitheater and other venues and that they can't afford to pay higher fees.

McDaniel said that before any contract is finalized, the residents who will be affected by the terms of the contract should have a chance to express their needs to county staff.

"The public is concerned that this will adversely affect their quality of life here in St. Augustine and St. Johns County," McDaniel said. "Specifically, to address these concerns, we believe the contract with the management company should include the following, at a minimum - recognition of the farmers market as a weekly user . …

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