By Jesse Wood
July 22, 2013. Last Thursday, the Boone Town Council voted unanimously to amend its current lease with the Southern Appalachian Historical Association (SAHA) and move forward with a licensing agreement.
The move comes after ASU recently decided not to renew its sublease with SAHA, valued at $25,000 per year, for student parking at Horn in the West for 2013-14.
(Hank Foreman, a spokesman for the university, said ASU was unable to sell all available parking spaces last year and that with additional parking available at the Broyhill Inn site, the university has the capacity to meet the current demand without leasing the SAHA lot.
“The university values its relationship with the town and SAHA but the demand for parking did not make it feasible to rent the additional lot for this year,” Foreman said.)
With the licensing agreement, the Town of Boone now assumes responsibility of the parking lot, and the council members agreed to share revenues of up to $12,500 for the remainder of the year – after any costs the Town of Boone incurs to manage the Horn in the West lot.
Town Manager Greg Young said he has already inquired if McLaurin Parking, which manages parking for the town in downtown, would be interested in managing that lot as well. McLaurin Parking is interested in working that lot.
The council also extended the licensing agreement for the entirety of 2014 and authorized the Cultural Resources Advisory Board to work with town staff to develop administrative, operation and staffing plans for licensing properties by July 2014.
Michelle Ligon, chair of SAHA, and Steve Canipe, vice chair of SAHA, spoke before the board during public comment on Thursday night – before the Boone Town Council voted to switch to licenses – and urged them not to move forward with licensing agreements.
Ligon even proposed a longer lease of up to 15 years. She told the council that a licensing agreement would mean “further difficulties” in finding quality leadership, raising funds, holding events, qualifying for grants and, in general, making long term plans.
Canipe noted that SAHA owns the lighting and sound system, hundreds of theatre seats in the amphitheater, ticket office, concession stands and more. He noted that the restrooms, which are owned by the Town of Boone and used by the Watauga County Farmers’ Market, are stocked by SAHA and that SAHA volunteers perform landscaping on and remove litter from the Horn in the West properties, among other duties.
“All of these costs, the town needs to consider,” Canipe said.
Town staff told the Boone Town Council on Thursday that costs associated with implementing the licensing agreement were not known as of yet.
Council Member Jamie Leigh said that, excluding SAHA’s sublets to ASU for parking and the Watauga County Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, the switch from a lease to a license would be the “same thing.”