Wednesday, October 19, 2011

City: No waiver for Haunted Forest

Event set to happen, despite hiccup

The annual Halloween Haunted Forest is set for Oct. 29 and 30. Express file photo


For the Express

The annual Halloween Haunted Forest event in Bellevue will be held as scheduled this year despite a refusal by the Bellevue City Council to waive fees for use of the Howard Preserve.

During a meeting Thursday, Oct. 13, the council denied the waiver by a vote of 3-2. At the time, event organizer and City Council candidate Tammy Eaton said the event might not take place as a result. However, Eaton said in an interview Tuesday that it would proceed.

Fees to use the preserve are $125 per day with a $500 security deposit. According to City Councilman David Hattula, the Haunted Forest event takes up six days.

Proceeds benefit maintenance of the Howard Preserve via a $5 ticket donation per person. Hattula said the two-day event raises $5,000 per day.

"Why would you want to prevent an event that brings people to our town?" asked Councilwoman Sara Burns, also an organizer of the event.

But Hattula asked, "Why should a nonprofit that makes money off the event not pay the city for that opportunity?"

"Please note that no one on the Council is opposed to the event," he stated in an email to the Idaho Mountain Express. "It is an awesome event for Bellevue, but we as elected officials are bound to follow specific decorum that is laid out for a reason—to protect the city from any possible liability. If any one should be aware of this, it certainly should be the leadership for this event."

"This should have been reviewed a month ago," he said at the meeting.

Other members of the council cited bookkeeping issues.

"Why couldn't you have brought us the accounting from last year's Haunted Forest event?" asked Councilwoman Barb Patterson. "We just want to know how the money is spent."

Eaton admitted she was behind on such paperwork.

Councilman Larry Plott objected to the fee waiver on the basis of a supposed $750 bill for public services from the event held three years ago. Eaton said she had no idea if such a bill existed.

Major Chris Koch said he didn't think this was the time to bring up something three years old and that he hadn't seen the records.

The Haunted Forest will be held on Friday, Oct. 29, and Saturday, Oct. 30.

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