Board of Directors Regular Meeting Agenda


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Meeting Date: 06/22/2016  

SUBJECT MATTER:
Receive, consider and act upon changes to Special Events Policies and Procedures including, but not limited to, noise, hours and locations for special events occurring within the Township; 
FISCAL IMPACT:
Funding for The Woodlands Township produced special events is allocated in the 2016 Parks and Recreation Department (PARD)  Budget - expenses total $1,619,350 for all events with revenues projected at $1,003,000.  This can be separated into the events previously produced by The Woodlands Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB): expenses = $1,173,250 with revenues = $453,000; and those produced by  PARD: expenses =  $446,100 with revenues =  $550,000 ( Attachment A ).

The proposed modifications and elimination of select special events is estimated to result in annual net operating savings of approximately $49,000. It is not anticipated that other changes to the Special Event Permit Policies and Procedures as presented will have a negative fiscal impact.

The economic impact of Township-produced special events has not been calculated. However, the direct economic impact is projected to be minimal as these events are short in duration, targeted to residents and produced as community spirit, quality of life and local health and wellness events. One might contend that community focused special events provide part of the fabric of a community that makes it special and unique thus fostering a desire for people to live and work in the community.

The Township does have economic impact information provided by the promoters of The Woodlands Marathon event and the Ironman Texas event (Attachment B): 
  • The Woodlands Marathon provided an economic impact analysis for their 2013 event which indicated the total economic benefit was $5.9 million.
  • Ironman Texas provided a 2010 economic impact analysis which indicated that the event provided a $15.9 economic impact.  Ironman also did a study in 2013 which just focused on the economic  impact of out of state visitors.  The economic impact of out of state visitors from the Ironman event is $5 million.    The 2013 Ironman Economic  Impact  Study was conducted by the Ironman organization as part of their application to apply for a State of Texas grant for sports events.   This grant was not approved by the state at that time. 
The economic impact is projected based on hotel stays, food and beverage and retail sales.  However,  as pointed out to the Board of Directors at the May meeting,  the economic benefit of these events may be greater than reflected in the economic impact analysis.   For example, the Ironman Texas event is an international event that brings media and marketing exposure to this area.  We also know that this event brings people to this area who come back at a later time to enjoy the amenities of The Woodlands.  There are also individuals who choose to spend extended time in this area to train for the event.

Of the combined total of $21 million of economic impact generated by the two events, $790,665 is the total estimated dollars collected in taxes to The Woodlands Township ($633,600- Texas Ironman and $157,065 [$2,513,040 Direct Spending x .0625 Tax Rate]).  As  1 cent of Township 2016 Property Tax results in $1,808,793 in tax revenue,  these two events have an impact of a .43 of one cent reduction in the overall property tax rate.
 
BACKGROUND:
Beginning with the 2016 Budget, The Woodlands Township assumed the production of a variety of special events that were formerly produced by The Woodlands Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB). This was done to afford the CVB the ability to implement new initiatives that are centered around the booking of hotel rooms and creating awareness of The Woodlands as a destination for meetings and conferences. One outcome of the realignment was to have the Parks and Recreation Department develop an inventory and analysis of the special events and to provide evaluate the value and benefit of those events. In February, 2016, the Board of Directors received a presentation regarding evaluation criteria and the process for Township-sponsored special events and provided input on the proposed criteria and direction on events produced by outside organization subsequently to produce an operational plan for Board consideration during 2016 for the 2017 Budget.

Staff has evaluated the existing special events that are produced by The Woodlands Township (and CVB), the market place for events, demographics of the community and the current issues impacting event production (sound, traffic and overall impact). From this study, a Special Event Analysis and Operational Plan has been developed ( Attachment C).   Findings include:
  • The primary market for the Township events is largely residents of The Woodlands while a secondary market is visitors from the surrounding area (Spring, Conroe, Klein, Tomball, Greater Houston)
  • The community is large and diverse (115,000 residents and growing) thus it is inevitable that events will occur at the same time (Township, Village Association, 3rd Party) due to the limited number of high season weekends (fall/spring) and the number of events
  • The Township offers a menu of live music at three different locations and at times it is difficult to understand the differences between the programs
  • Fireworks displays -  while they attract people to the events, they may lose impact if they become routine; or, they may be perceived as "The Woodlands" high standard for extraordinary entertainment and experiences
  • Limited need for the Memorial Day and Labor Day events to last two days as these events do not seem to attract visitors to book hotel rooms and stay overnight
  • Where events have experienced large attendance and have a sustained attendance and they mimic other events in the community but not simultaneous, they should continue. If attendance drops at one of the events, that would signify the time to merge or delete and event, i.e. Halloween Carnival and  Trick or Treat Trail
  • Where events are large and simultaneous (iWow and Lighting of the Doves), eliminate one of the events (iWow) to concentrate marketing, advertising and resource allocation on a single event which will enhance the experience for attendees.
 
With these findings, the following recommendations are  presented which are believed to address the direction of the Board needs of the community:
  • Reduce the annual Memorial Day and Labor Day Events to one day each
  • Eliminate the Live at Night Concert Series due to duplication with Waterway Nights
  • Provide approximately 37  concerts with live music at three venues: Hughes Landing (Rock the Row), Northshore Park (Concert in the Park), and Waterway Square (Waterway Nights) to reduce overlap
  • Remove fireworks displays from the concert series
  • Reallocate the funding for the proposed removal of fireworks displays to enhance the  Fireworks Extravaganza for the Red, Hot and Blue Festival
  • Eliminate iWow as a separate special event by merging components of the event into Lighting of the Doves.
  • Reschedule the  CB&I Triathlon and / or Memorial Hermann 10 for Texas to different months than currently produced to reduce the number of race events in the community that necessitate a street and/or lane closure that have been occurring within a few weeks of each other 
  • Institute special event permit fees for events that do not use Township facilities but require staff resources to process the permit, such as races on public roads that originate and/or end on private property
  • Permit and establish a park use fee for special events at The Fountains at Waterway Square that are sponsored by  hotels within the boundaries of the Township and in conjunction with the hotel hosting a convention that includes the booking of a minimum of 200 room nights 
  • Provided the Counties approve Township’s role in approving use of public roads, events requiring road or lane closures  cannot occur if another event has been permitted for closing the same roads/ lanes two weeks before or two weeks after. All road and lane closures must provide traffic alternate routes of ingress/egress from neighborhoods. No events will be permitted to close a public road or lane for more than 4 hours, except the Ironman Texas  
  • Restrict continuous  amplified sound to no more than 3 hours at all parks except Town Green Park and The Fountains at Waterway Square -  PA announcements allowed
  • Amend 019-09 (Park Rules) and the  Special Event Policies and Procedures to address these findings and recommendations as well as previous actions of the Board taken April 27, 2016
  • Prohibit  amplified sound at Town Green Park past 7:00 p.m. when concerts at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion are scheduled more than 90 days in advance of the permitted  event.  
RECOMMENDATION:
Receive the Special Event Analysis and Operational Plan  as presented and schedule a Public Hearing for July 27, 2016, to amend Township Orders 019-09 and 020-09 and the  Special Event Policies and Procedures to reflect the recommendations presented herein. 
 
Attachments
Attachment A - Special Events 2016 Budget
Attachment B - Ironman Texas Woodlands Marathon Economic Impact Studies
Attachment C Special Event Analysis and Operational Plan


    

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