City to put excess Arts, Beats & Eats revenue toward parks

By: Robert Guttersohn | Royal Oak Review | Published August 26, 2013

 The Orange Marsupials perform at the Alternative Stage during last year’s Arts, Beats & Eats. This year’s festival, running from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2, will feature more than 200 performances on 10 stages.

The Orange Marsupials perform at the Alternative Stage during last year’s Arts, Beats & Eats. This year’s festival, running from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2, will feature more than 200 performances on 10 stages.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

ROYAL OAK — Beginning this Labor Day weekend, Royal Oak officials can now tell patrons of Arts, Beats & Eats where the city’s profits from parking goes — to help fund its parks.

The City Commission voted Aug. 19 to create the Park Improvement Fund, a new line item in the budget that will be fed by revenue that the city makes from charging for parking — its largest source for recouping the cost of hosting the event.

The vote was 5-2.

City Manager Don Johnson, who proposed the creation of the fund, said it would finally create a stream of revenue for the city to begin improvements to parks and possibly purchase land for future parks — both points, he said, the commission highlighted as priorities.

“It’s a personal goal of mine to really work on parks because we’ve ignored parks for a long time,” Johnson said.

Mayor Pro-tem David Poulton and Commissioner Peggy Goodwin voted against the fund, saying the city should wait until after this year’s Arts, Beats & Eats to see the fiscal effect of losing the parking revenue from the Oakland Community College Royal Oak Campus parking garage.

“I’d rather err on the side of caution and bring this back for vote in September,” Poulton said.

In June, OCC announced that they would no longer allow the city to reap the $15-per-car fee that visitors to Arts, Beats & Eats paid to park in their structure. The community college said in an Aug. 20 press release that it would still be charging $15 per car, but the funds raised will go toward student scholarships instead of the city.

For the city, the revenue from the OCC garage accounted for half of its net profits or $50,000, officials said.

In 2012, Johnson said the City Commission created a reserve fund from the parking revenue to prevent the city’s general fund from taking a hit if there were to be a drop in attendance. As of the Aug. 19 decision, the reserve fund had more than $100,000.

“I think that is more than we need to hold in reserve,” Johnson said. “I think it’s time we designate how Arts, Beats & Eats profits, if you will, should be used.”

In 2011, excessive heat during Labor Day weekend dropped attendance to Arts, Beats & Eats by 25 percent, Johnson said. As significant as that decrease was, it created a total loss of only $7,177. Because of the tri-party agreement among the city, the Downtown Development Authority and festival organizers, the DDA bore the entirety of the loss, Johnson said. The city still broke even that year.

With that in mind, Johnson called for any amounts carried over in the reserve fund in excess of $50,000 go toward the newly created Park Improvement Fund. The resolution is retroactive to June 30, meaning the newly created fund receives a sudden infusion of about $50,000.

Johnson said the commission could have waited to approve the resolution until after Arts, Beats & Eats, but he said doing it before this year’s festival meant the city can put on brochures that using city-backed parking will raise funds for Royal Oak parks.

“If you do it now, I’d like to tell people that any profits are going to parks,” Johnson said. “Right now, I can’t say what we’re doing with it because it’s just going into a fund and being held there.”

Poulton wasn’t convinced.

“People are going to come to Arts, Beats & Eats because they want to come here,” Poulton said. “It’s not because, ‘Hey, I want to get over there to make sure Royal Oak has better parks.’”

Goodwin wouldn’t support the resolution because of the language saying part of the money could go toward purchasing new parkland. She said the city should focus on its current parks.

“We have 52 parks,” Goodwin said. “This is not a lot of money to address the needs of 52 parks, which are in need.”

Mayor Jim Ellison said the decision to purchase a park would be decided by the commission, regardless.

“If we don’t want to buy a new park, we don’t buy a new park,” Ellison said.



Arts, Beats & Eats will transform downtown Royal Oak Aug. 30 to Sept 1

Musical headliners on the Michigan Lottery National Stage:

Aug. 30
5:00 p.m. Elanora
6:30 p.m. Spring
8:00 p.m. Smash Mouth
10:00 p.m. Eddie Money

Aug. 31
5:00 p.m. Beatlemania Live
7:00 p.m. Starship featuring Mickey Thomas
8:45 p.m. Bush Hawg 
10:00 p.m. Montgomery Gentry

Sept. 1
6:30 p.m. Ty Stone
8:00 p.m. Soul Asylum
10:00 p.m. Guster

Sept. 2
3:30 p.m. The Jill Jack Band
5:00 p.m. Fifty Amp Fuse
6:45 p.m. Sponge
8:30 p.m. MC Hammer

Go to for the full listing of music acts and for any lineup changes.

Downtown Lots & Structures
Lots and structures begin charging at 5 p.m. Aug. 30. Parking at all downtown lots and structures will be $15

Downtown Structure No. 1
516 S. Lafayette Ave.

Downtown Structure No. 2
320 Lafayette Ave.
Downtown Structure No. 3
260 Center St.

Oakland Community College Royal Oak Campus Parking Garage
Southeast corner of Lincoln Avenue and S. Washington Avenue, Royal Oak Campus

Royal Oak Farmers Market
Parking at the farmers market will be free to market customers only, as normal, until 1 p.m. on Aug. 30 and Aug. 31
316 E. 11 Mile Road

Williams St.
Located off of 11 Mile Road, east of Main Street

Fresard Lot
400 North Main St.
Center St. Lot
Center Street and Second Street, west of Main Street

11 Mile Lot
11 Mile Road and Center Street, west of Main Street

Third Street and Williams Lot
Third Street and Williams Street, east of Main Street

Just outside downtown
Vacant/Grass Lot
Main Street and I-696 Service Drive

Royal Oak High School
Shuttle provided
1500 Lexington Boulevard
Royal Oak Middle School Lot
709 North Washington Ave.

Oakland County Parks Kids Zone
The Oakland County Parks Kids Zone, which will be located along Seventh Street, will have several activities lined up to entertain children throughout the four days of events. Included in the list of events is a 65-minute animated film, “A Cat in Paris,” that will be shown inside the Kids Zone from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 30, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.

Go to for a complete list of events and entertainment.

Sources: Arts, Beats and Eats website, Oakland Community College press release