A legal recommendation to treat everyone equally was the driving force behind Warren taking over the electric bill at General Joseph Warren Park that had previously been paid by a veterans group.
Warren City Manager Nancy Freenock addressed the issue during the monthly meeting of the Council of Governments last week at the city building.
"Through research and working out the special event process, talking to the city solicitor, (the city) can't offer special deals to any one group. (We) have to treat everyone equally," Freenock said.
The new policy, put in place last year, formalizes the process for renting city space and includes a provision where all overtime costs are directly passed to the event organizer.
While some have expressed displeasure that the city took over the electrical payments and charges groups for reserving space, Freenock said that event organizers can take the chance that a park will not be used on a given day. Without the reservation, no cost is required.
Speaking of veterans events held in city parks, Freenock said, "for what they do in the city, there is no charge." She noted that General Warren Park is not a memorial park.
"There was never any intent to insult the veterans or anyone else," Freenock reiterated. "According to the city solicitor, everyone needs to be treated equally. All we were trying to do was to standardize our procedures so that we know if you have a reservation, if you need special services, we're there."
Speaking to the policy generally, Freenock explained, "It's a new thing. People don't like change and I understand that. We have veterans on council who are saying 'we didn't serve to get special services.' (I) think there is misunderstanding. (We) can't keep going back to the taxpayers and saying 'cough it up.'"
City of Warren Councilman Jim Zavinski noted, "Most people don't realize our pavilions (are) scheduled out for a year."