Non-profit asks city council for direction on use of Crosby Commons Park
During Tuesday’s (July 2, 2019) regular meeting of the City Council, Crosby Commons Park was again brought up by citizens of Picayune with concerns over pricing and availability when reserving the park for events.
Donnie Pascal, owner of Diamond Productions, along with Rashell Dawsey of RAD Media were representing their newly formed 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization Sundown in the City, Inc. They asked to speak with the council about difficulties their non-profit has faced when attempting to set up additional movie nights they wanted to hold free of charge in the Crosby Commons Park.
Pascal said that their efforts are targeted on donating their services in an effort to promote more activities for the residents of the area. In describing previous engagements with the city, he said that he has been told the city will hire Sundown in the City to provide the services and at other times that it will not and can use the park as before. Pascal pointed out that two events have been provided, a movie and a Saints game (in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce), and everyone appeared to have a good time.
Pascal said they had planned to do a summer series of three movies in the Commons this year, but after going back and forth with the city, the city basically told them they only wanted to do something in November and December. Pascal said he and Dawsey are just trying to figure how to navigate the process in order to provide services. Pascal is perplexed on why things have changed.
“It’s always a challenge. Am I going through the right channels or is there something else I should be doing, because I am concerned, not only as a taxpayer, but also as a business owner in the community. It seems like we get a lot of 'no’s' around here. We just want to know what we should do otherwise?“ Pascal stated.
Dawsey added, “We’ve seen other communities do it (hold events like this) to create great experiences. Research shows that the more events like this you do, the more attractive you are as a city and community to people and businesses to come here because it shows people have more to do. It shouldn’t be so hard to do something so good for free. We are just looking for some consistency with pricing for events for non-profits.”
Pascal added, “In my business, I do events all over the United States and to get things done, it’s never this difficult anywhere else you go.”
Mayor Ed Pinero told Pascal and Dawsey that they should be dealing with City Manager Jim Luke and they responded, “Jim is who we have dealt with.”
City Manager Jim Luke responded that all he can do, when it comes to Crosby Commons, is to follow the ordinances already approved by the Council. The ordinances for use of Crosby Commons that Luke referred to were created by a committee consisting mostly city employees.
“I think the problem is we’re dealing with the ordinances that the council approved, and if they want to direct us to another look at that, I’d certainly be glad to, “ Luke shared.
All of the council members stated “yes” to Luke’s question and Councilman Wayne Gouguet chimed in.
“My position is that the more we can use Crosby Commons, that the taxpayers paid for, we should. If you are a bona fide, registered with the Secretary of State in Mississippi non-profit residing in Pearl River County, you ought to be able to put up a $500.00 deposit (damage/cleanup fee if needed) and be able to use it. Now that’s my opinion. I don’t know how the rest of you all feel.”
Gouguet added that this is if there is no liquor permit involved, the gates to the park are left open, and an event is open to the public.
Mayor Pinero and the rest of the council agreed it was time to review the ordinances as it relates to non-profits and put more concrete rules and prices in place that benefit everyone involved. After Council review, changes to the ordinances should be voted on in the very near future.