2016-11-02 / Front Page

City grants La Kermesse 5-year agreement to use St. Louis Field

Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD — The City Council on Tuesday voted 7-2 to approve an agreement with La Kermesse Franco-Americaine, Inc. to use St. Louis Field as the location of its annual festival for the next five years.

The agreement comes after the La Kermesse organization hosted a successful festival on the field in June, six years after it was barred from using the location due to damages to the field.

In 2010, due to heavy rain during the festival, the field located on West Street suffered damage, costing $25,000 in repairs.

The group was allowed to hold their festival on St. Louis Field this year, under new city leadership, and the organizers and councilors said it was a success.

Under the agreement, the city will provide $4,000 in actual costs to La Kermesse for providing police services by the Biddeford Fire Department. The services include the cost of wages in addition to benefits for BPD employees involved in planning, directing or supervision the festival.

The city will also provide fire services up to $3,500 in wages and benefits. La Kermesse will be responsible for costs of emergency medical services exceeding that amount.
La Kermesse will also be responsible for reimbursing the city in the event there is any damage to the field.

Councilors Bob Mills and Marc Lessard voted against the agreement, saying they had concerns about allowing the group to use the field for five years. Both called for a two-year agreement instead. Lessard attempted to amend the agreement, saying approving a five-year contract would set a precedent for future agreements of this type.

The amendment was shot down by the council, with other councilors saying a provision included in the agreement allows the council to terminate the agreement at any time and the amendment was not necessary.

Lessard said he opposed allowing the agreement to pass, holding firm in his belief that the field should only be used for baseball.

“I grew up playing baseball. To me, that’s a baseball field. That’s all it should be is a baseball field,” Lessard said.

Other councilors disagreed.

“I commend the agreement because it addresses everybody’s concerns,” said Councilor John McCurry. “It gives them a sense of security that they can plan a festival knowing they’ve got a place to go. I really believe this year the festival went off without a hitch.”

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or abennett@journaltribune.com.

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