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Rotary events are about preserving Rumsey Park

By Staff | Sep 18, 2009

Thanks to everyone who made the September 5 community picnic and concert at Rumsey Memorial Park such a great success: to Mayor Jim Auxer and the Shepherdstown Parks and Recreation Committee, for their encouragement and support; to local businesses, for helping underwrite the event; to the members of the Shepherdstown Rotary Club, for all the time and effort they volunteered (especially Carl Moore, who organized and oversaw the event); and to the citizens of Shepherdstown, for their enthusiastic participation and support.

The September 5 picnic and concert didn’t draw quite as many people as the Fourth of July picnic and concert at the Park but it came pretty close.

As was the case on the Fourth, people came and went throughout the afternoon and evening. But at any given time, there were at least 100 people in attendance. And as on the Fourth, the crowd was a reflection of the town: people of all ages were there (including lots of kids), a lot of people brought their dogs, most everyone knew everyone else, and everyone was well-behaved and had a good time.

Both the Fourth of July and September 5 events were intended to provide good, wholesome family entertainment for the town, and they surely accomplished that goal.

Both events were also intended to remind people what a great asset the Rumsey Memorial Park is, and to raise some money for continued park improvements, and they’ve accomplished those goals, too.

So will there be further such public events at the Park in the future?

That’s for the people of Shepherdstown and the Town Council to decide.

The effort to revitalize the Rumsey Park began last February, when members of our Rotary Club first met with Town officials to discuss possible options and approaches.

At that time, it was agreed that the Club and the Town’s Parks and Recreation Committee would jointly undertake some initial improvements to the Park during the spring, jointly sponsor two community events during the summer, and then come back to the Town Council in October with a report that includes recommendations on next steps.

That report is currently under preparation. Here are a few preliminary observations:

– The kinds of events we held at the Park this year aren’t cheap. The overhead costs for the September 5 event were nearly $10,000; the costs for Fourth of July event were somewhat less than that.

– The Town’s Parks and Recreation Committee covered the costs of the sound stages for both events. We’d hoped to cover many and maybe all of the remaining overhead costs through revenues from food and beverage sales. But that didn’t happen.

– In an August 28 editorial, the Chronicle criticized the Town Council for lifting its ban on open alcohol containers for the two Rumsey Park events we cosponsored and for other events this year. We can’t speak to the Town Council’s decision-making. But for our part at Shepherdstown Rotary, we decided to go ahead and seek permission to offer beer for sale at our two events because organizers of similar events had told us this was a great way to raise revenue. For us, it didn’t turn out that way. The fact is, we made as much or more by selling food and non-alcoholic beverages.

– Our Rotary Club chipped in $2,000 of its own funds to cover the shortfall for the Fourth of July Event. We then sought sponsorships from local businesses to help underwrite the overhead costs for the September 5 event, and that helped a lot.

– In the end, thanks to the business sponsorships and the raffle that we organized to accompany the two events, the two events did net more than $3,500. All of this money will be used for capital improvements at the park.

Regardless of what’s decided about future events at Rumsey Park, our Rotary Club hopes to continue to work with the Town and others to restore the Park at least for general public use.

This park has been underutilized and underappreciated for too long. We look forward to assisting the effort to realize its full potential as a community asset

Doug Alexander, President

The Shepherdstown Rotary Club