The Maple Leaf Music Venue and Performing Arts Center is to be a Brown County, IN government-owned and managed venue. It is a 12.5 million dollar facility that is funded by revenue from the Brown County Innkeepers Tax.
The intent of the documentation (this post) is to keep track of the evolution and impact of the project over time and compare the expected results with the actual.
Decision Authority: The commissioners and all council members voted to approve funding for the project. They declined to hold any public meetings to get input from the citizens regarding the desirability and concerns related to the project.
- Commissioners: Dave Anderson, Diana Biddle, Jerry Pittman.
- County Council: David Critser, John Price, Glenda Stogsdill, Debbie Guffey, Darren Byrd, Keith Baker, Art Knight.
- Maple Leaf Project Committee:
- CVC: Barry Herring (Brown County Inn), Kevin Ault (The Seasons Lodge, Hotel Nashville),
- CVB: Bruce Gould (Cornerstone Inn,) Jane Ellis (CVB Director).
- Other: Doug Hardin, Venue Designer, Jim Schultz, Community member
Key Dates: Commissioners and council refuse to answer questions or delay their vote pending public hearings to obtain citizen input regarding the project.
- August 22, 2017. Request for Zoning Change, Area Plan Commission, Recommend approval by the Commissioners.
- September 6, 2017. 9:00 am Commissioner Meeting. Zoning approved. It was stated that the approval was for zoning and not the project and that public meetings would be held regarding the desirability of the project.
- November 15, 2017. Commissioners approve the project.
- November 20, 2017. Council approves project.
- Dec 20, 2017. Commissioners pass a final resolution approving the project.
SUMMARY – Extracted from the following article: Dec 27, 2017. GUEST OPINION: The role of process in the future of Brown County. The Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center (MLPAC) project and the process used to fast-track approval may represent a turning point for the future of the county.
- In April 2017, owners of hotels and inns, who are also appointed to the Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC) and Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) decide to use the revenue collected from the innkeeper’s tax to invest in an asset that will promote tourism. The Innkeeper’s Tax is a pass-through tax paid by the party renting the overnight accommodations.
- CVC members are appointed by the county commissioners and council. The CVB is a non-profit organization established to manage tourism related promotion on behalf of the CVC.
- CVC/CVB members decided on a music venue and performing arts center and also determined the size, location, scope, cost (12.5 million), and overall governance plan for the facility. Given that this investment is expected to result in overnight stays, their businesses will directly benefit from the investment, and the asset values of their establishments will likely increase.
- Initially, county citizens were told that revenue from the innkeepers tax would be used to pay the principal and interest on the mortgage for the venue. Any profits were to be used for community and county infrastructure priorities. The final terms of the deal are that profits would be used to make the mortgage payment and the revenue from the innkeeper’s tax would only be used if profits were not sufficient to make the payment.
- A common perception in the county that was reinforced by the president of the county council, may be that the revenue from the innkeeper’s tax is “their (CVC) money.” This inaccurate perception may have contributed to a lack of transparency over the years regarding the management and expenditure of these funds. This revenue, per statute, is a county asset. Commissioners and Council (elected by citizens) appoint CVC members who are subordinate to the citizens and their elected officials.
- The approval of a 12.5 million dollar loan using the revenue from the innkeeper’s tax as collateral was approved by the commissioners on Nov 15 and the county council on Nov 20. The commissioners approved another resolution approving the project on Dec 20. In case of default, the venue would become the property of the bank, and per the county council president and the county financial consultant, county taxpayers would not be obligated to assume the liability.
- No public meetings expressly focused on this important project were scheduled by the commissioners or council before their meetings to approve the project. The League of Women Voters of Brown County offered to facilitate a public meeting to address citizen questions, concerns, and issues regarding the project. Members of the CVC, the CVB and the informal team working on the Maple Leaf project declined to participate, as did several key elected officials.
- The editor of the only newspaper in the county – The Brown County Democrat, did recuse herself from being the primary reporter because of a conflict of interest — her husband serves on the CVC. The Democrat welcomed opposing opinions in Guest Columns and Letters to the Editor.
Jan 23, 2018. Working toward ‘a more perfect union’ By Tim Clark, guest columnist. ”As individuals, we may not have too much direct influence over what happens politically at the national level of government. At the county level, our efforts can certainly be directed to local issues. We can choose to determine the quality of government that we want and need.
Jan 11, 2018. Land, loan set for Maple Leaf project – Brown County Democrat. The Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center officially has a home and a $12.5 million bank loan to build it. The Maple Leaf Building Corporation signed an agreement with Chuck Snyder on Dec. 20 to buy his land. The sale closed Dec. 28. A tentative agreement had been in place since July to buy 13.472 acres …
Jan 11, 2018. GUEST OPINION: ‘Coming together is a beginning’… By TIM CLARK, guest columnist. In the first part of my series, “The role of process in county’s future,” I suggested that the process applied to fast-track approval of the $12.5 million investment in the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center (MLPAC) might represent a turning point for the future of the ...
Jan 9, 2018. Letter: Maple Leaf Committee needs to answer questions To the editor: It is obvious to me that the Maple Leaf Committee is not going to answer questions about the performing arts center and to have “no more forums.” Someone needs to immediately file a lawsuit against the committee and compel them to answer all questions in writing! Michael B. Smith …
Dec 26, 2017. Letter: In response to Maple Leaf ‘no more … – Brown County Democrat To the editor: When we saw the headline in this past week’s paper, we were shocked. After much thought, we have concluded that this letter is necessary. As far as we know, no true forum which seemed designed to solicit genuine input from our county’s residents on the viability of the proposed Maple Leaf …
Dec 26, 2017. Letter: More questions about the Maple Leaf center – Brown County …To the editor: Someone once told me “If you’re not prepared to deal with the answer, don’t ask the question.” It seems to me that many of the questions raised since the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center idea was introduced have not been fully considered or answered. Some of the questions include: Who ..
Dec 19, 2017. Maple Leaf Building Corporation meeting Wednesday. Members have been appointed to the Maple Leaf Building Corporation, and they’re having their first meeting Wednesday afternoon. Local attorney Andy Szakaly will serve as the registered agent for the Maple Leaf Building Corporation.
Dec 12, 2007. Brown County Democrat. Maple Leaf committee: No more forums Sufficient input time has been given at past public meetings, group says. The offer by the League of Women Voters to facilitate a public meeting was refused.
Nov 28, 2017. Council approves pledging innkeepers tax to fund Maple Leaf venue The Brown County Council voted unanimously last week to pledge innkeepers tax revenue to pay the mortgage of the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center. That was the third of three board votes needed to move the project along to the next step.
Nov 22, 2017, Print Edition Brown County Democrat:
- Maple Leaf funding progresses. Published on Facebook Nov 17, 2017, as Steps taken to fund Maple Leaf venue
- Guest Column: Planning for project success is a choice. Published on Facebook Nov 21, 2017, as Guest Opinion: Success is a choice, Tim Clark
Nov 20, 2017, 6:30 p.m. County Council Meeting. County council unanimously approved the project. The audio recording of the meeting (See: Public Meeting Audio, County Council Minutes Audio Link 11/20/2017). Copy of the questions provided to the commissioners on Nov 15 also provided to the council.
County Council Statement 20 Nov 2017. Copy of the questions provided to the commissioners meeting on Nov 15 also provided to the council.
Nov 17, 2017, Steps taken to fund Maple Leaf venue. The Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center has received two votes of approval from government groups, and it will go before the Brown County Council for an additional vote on financing Monday night.
Nov 15, 2017, 9 a.m. Commissioner Meeting. Commissioners voted to approve a resolution requesting council approval for financing. Copy of questions provided to the commissioners.
Nov 6, 2017, Commissioner and Council Meeting. Maple Leaf update provided to commissioners and council in a “working session”- not advertised to the public. Copy of the timetable provided at the meeting: Oct 24, 2017, Project Timetable).
Nov 1, 2017 9 a.m. Commissioners Meeting. Maple Leaf update provided to commissioners – not advertised to the public.
Sep 20, 2017. Guest Column: A study of tourism and economic sustainability. By Tim Clark, “However, tourism, by itself, has not and cannot provide a sustainable economic future for Brown County. Further, too much tourism can have …”
Note: The proponents of the Maple Leaf project claimed that Maple Leaf “…. could be what it takes to turn things around economically for Brown County.” This article was written to offer another perspective. The county is funded primarily by income and property tax.
Sept 6, 2017. Memorandum to the County Commissioners preceding their vote to approve the zoning change for the Maple Leaf Music Venue. Encl 0 Memo for Commissioners 2017_09_06
August 29, 2017. Guest Opinion: Maple Leaf: What are the other options? By Tim Clark guest columnist, “The Maple Leaf in a different location (Gnaw Bone? Bean Blossom? Ski World?) could be an “anchor” facility that could support further …”
Facebook Page: Nashville isn’t broke so don’t break it! Comments on the article
Aug 29, 2017. New developments prompt county planning discussion “Clark asked fellow members of the Brown County Redevelopment Commission on Aug. … in a permanent increase in year-round tourism in Brown County,” Clark wrote in a letter to the board.”
August 22, 2017. Letter: ‘Zoning for Maple Leaf: Not in the plan’ – Brown County Democrat , Tim Clark – “Although the proposed Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center has not been formally approved by the commissioners …”
August 21, 2017. Letter to the Area Plan Commission preceding their vote for the zoning change for the Maple Leaf music venue. Encl 2a Letter to APC on Maple Leaf Zoning
Aug 17, 2017. Letters: Find a better site for Maple Leaf concert hall – Brown County … The proposed Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center would put a 2,000-seat concert hall next to one of the prime retirement communities in the state of Indiana. While the performing arts center is a good idea and has been talked about for many years, the chosen site is not only poor planning, it is a bad idea.
Aug 8, 2017. Letter: Maple Leaf proposal: Let’s not fail to plan By Tim Clark. For those where planning may be an abhorrent concept, Benjamin Franklin is credited with the axiom that: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
At the July 13, 2017, RDC meeting, a County Commissioner stated that the initial process that was outlined by the county attorneys was changed to the extent that project reviews and approval no longer required the involvement of the RDC. An updated outline and timeline has yet to be shared with the public.
June 20, 2017. Building a destination: Maple Leaf Performing Arts plans “A group of people were waiting for the Brown County Playhouse doors to open for a public rollout meeting and presentation about the Maple …”
April 9, 2017. Brown County Redevelopment Commission (RDC) members attended a presentation that outlined the concept for the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center (MLPAC). In a follow-up contact following the presentation, the RDC reinforced their support for the concept and the importance of aligning the project in the context of a county plan and strategy. The RDC had no further involvement in the project.