Its patience worn thin, the Perry City Council voted Monday to discontinue renting out for private parties the Clarion Room in the Security Bank Building and the upper rooms of the Town/Craft Building. The action comes after repeated damage caused by renters began to pose a risk to public property.
“It’s sad that it’s come to this,” Perry City Council member John Andorf said in supporting the resolution, “but it doesn’t look like we have any choice.”
For a number of years, the city of Perry has rented the Clarion Room at 1102 Willis Ave. and the Town/Craft Building at 1122 Willis Ave. to businesses and community groups for meetings and to local residents private parties, such as birthdays or graduations.
The Clarion Room also serves at the Perry City Council’s chambers. The Town/Craft Building houses the Hometown Heritage archives and other assets valuable to Perry’s cultural life.
According to Perry Finance Officer Susie Stoner Moorhead, the standard rental charge for the Clarion Room was $25 per day with a $50 security deposit. Last year the city collected $800 in rental fees for 32 Clarion Room events, Moorhead said. Of the total, $700 was rental for private parties, she said.
The larger Town/Craft Building rented for $100 per day, she said, and last year the city of Perry collected $2,500 in rental fees for 25 paid events, with $1,600 coming from private parties and $900 from businesses or community groups.
Moorhead said when damage occurred, it was not always possible to determine who was responsible.
“We have kept a few deposits due to damage done to the carpet,” she said, “but when there were rentals on a Saturday and again on Sunday, we had no way of knowing which party made the stain.”
Moorhead said costs to the city for the buildings include general cleaning, building maintenance, insurance, utilities, carpet cleaning, window cleaning and the price of additional paper goods, such as paper towels or toilet paper.
Some recent damages — including significant stains on carpets and spills on furniture, deliberately clogged sinks and toilets, scuffs and mars on walls and woodwork — were enough to prompt the council to review its policy and discontinue renting for private parties.
“Most renters were very conscientious,” Moorhead said. “They did clean up after themselves and left the rooms in pristine condition. Those renters who did the damage are the reason why the rooms can’t continue to be rented. As a city, we take pride in our buildings and property. Unfortunately, we just can’t allow the private rentals to continue and risk further harm to public property.”
Council member Dr. Randy McCaulley seemed indignant at the scale of damage and the state the rooms were sometimes left in.
“I definitely support this resolution,” McCaulley said. “This is something we simple cannot permit to continue.”
Council member Barb Wolling suggested possibly raising the dollar amount of the required security deposit. She noted other venues, such as Jester Park in Polk County, charge as much as $500 in a refundable security deposit.
“At least that way our public building will still be available to the public,” Wolling said.
It was noted in the ensuing discussion that the Perry Public Library and McCreary Community Building will continue to offer to rent their facilities for private parties. In the end, with the majority of Perry City Council members inclining toward completely ending private-party rentals, the motion carried unanimously.
Moorhead also noted not all groups using the Clarion Room and the Town/Craft Building pay rent. The city of Perry, the Perry Community School District, the Perry-Area Chamber of Commerce and related public-service groups do not pay a rental fee for use of the buildings.
The Perry Public Library also uses the Clarion room for its book club meetings. Proteus, an organization serving low-income and minority groups, uses the Clarion Room for a monthly mobile health clinic at no charge.
According to Moorhead, last year the city, school, Chamber and other related groups used the Clarion Room 155 times and the Town/Craft Building 63 times at no charge. The actual number could be higher, she said, because some meetings may have not been listed on the calendar.
The Chamber and the Perry Schools reimburse the city for their portions of the cost of building maintenance and utilities in the Security Bank Building. The Des Moines Area Community College, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Fullhart/Carnegie Trust reimburse the city for their portion of the building maintenance costs and utilities in the Town/Craft Building.
ThePerryNews.com, maintaining virtually a zero footprint in the Town/Craft Building, offsets the small cost of its midnight oil with the in-kind publicizing of public notices, such as the following list of planned holiday closures of Perry-area public buildings and schedule changes in Perry public services.
Perry garbage and recycle routes scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 24 will be picked up Wednesday, Dec. 23. Garbage and Recycle Routes scheduled for Friday, Dec. 25 will be picked up Thursday, Dec. 24.
All Perry city offices and the Perry Water Works office will close at noon Thursday, Dec. 24 and will be closed Friday, Dec. 25.
The McCreary Community Building will be open Thursday, Dec. 24 from 7 a.m. until noon and will be closed Friday, Dec. 25.
The Perry Public Library will be open Thursday, Dec. 24 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and will be closed Friday, Dec. 25.
The Carnegie Library Museum will be closed during the month of January and will reopen for the 2016 season Feb. 6 for the BRR Ride. New hours for 2016 will be Saturdays noon to 4 p.m. and Sundays 1-3 p.m.
The Dallas County Hospital will temporarily suspend Sunday brunch at the 10th Street Bistro Cafeteria from Sunday, Dec. 27 through Sunday, Jan. 3. The Bistro will be open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. during this time. Normal Sunday brunch hours will resume Sunday, Jan. 10. Dallas For more information, call 515-465-2530.
The Dallas County Conservation Board offices will be closed Thursday and Friday, Dec. 24-25 and will reopen Monday, Dec. 28 at 8 a.m.
The Clothes Closet at the First Christian Church, 1224 Lucinda St., will be closed Friday and Saturday, Dec. 25-26 and Friday and Saturday, Jan. 1-2. It will resume its regular hours Friday and Saturday, Jan. 8-9 from 8 a.m. to noon.