I have a real empathy for the people who manage such awesome venues as Heinz Field, PNC Park, and Consol Energy Center. Their spaces are tightly booked, so they sometimes have to strike a concert set, clean up the whole site, and restage it for a completely different type of event the following day.
We know what that’s like. Cranberry Township is another awesome venue. It’s a great place to live. It has first-rate public facilities. And our residents are known for their caring attitudes and support for worthy causes. In just the past two weeks, tens of thousands of people from all around the region converged on our parks for Community Days, baseball-softball tournaments, footraces, Relay for Life, graduation parties, picnics, Summer Camps, and more.
I make it a point to visit most of our major events. And what I consistently hear from their organizers and participants is how well maintained and beautiful our park facilities really are. That makes me extremely proud of Cranberry. At the same time, though, it creates some stress for the Township.
That’s because we are responsible for the prudent management of our residents’ tax dollars that support those parks. Few organizers and participants really appreciate the tremendous volume of resources it takes to keep the parks the way they are and to accommodate their events within the time frames they request – times which often fall right after the conclusion of other major events. Yet we do it, and I don’t think there is any other community our size which can accommodate visitors to its parks as well as Cranberry Township.
But here’s our dilemma: on the one hand, we are pleased to host so many awesome events. They help to create the excitement and passion that Cranberry is known for throughout the region. And we are flattered that Cranberry is seen as the place to be.
However there’s a cost: scheduling public works personnel, public safety resources, and intensive behind-the-scenes activities to keep the parks beautiful is expensive. When playing fields get damaged as a result of being trampled because they’re wet, it costs money to fix them. When public roads get closed for events like 5k races, the residents and businesses who use those routes are seriously inconvenienced, and they’re not shy about letting us know it. When an athletic field is preempted by a special event, the associations which have scheduled it – and in many cases helped to pay for it – feel put off.
It’s not an issue that’s about to go away. The intensity of demand for Cranberry’s resources has been growing every year, and just about all of it comes from fundraisers for worthy causes. Their objective is to raise significant dollars and put every cent toward their charitable cause. We understand that. However, we have to balance that goal against our own fiduciary responsibility. So we are now asking those groups to cover the extra-ordinary costs associated with a special event.
Of course, we will continue providing a high baseline level of service in all our parks. But when we need to supplement that with additional crews, materials and other resources, we will be asking event organizers to cover those costs. In addition, we are working with experts to develop 5k routes that are totally within our parks, which would eliminate the need to shut down any public roads.
We genuinely appreciate the cooperation we have received from so many of the organizations that use our Parks for their special events. And in the future, we promise to partner with them in doing all we can to help them succeed in their special events.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, too. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org