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City providing slight increase in security for 2018 SummerNight

City providing slight increase in security for 2018 SummerNight

"The benefit of an event like SummerNight is the economic activity it brings into downtown'
City providing slight increase in security for 2018 SummerNight
The crowd fills the street as Blues Traveler takes the main stage at SummerNight in Schenectady on July 14, 2017.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

Editor's note: This story was corrected at 9:17 a.m. on July 13, 2018. An earlier version incorrectly stated the number of trucks that will be used to block entrances to the event.

SCHENECTADY -- The city will be slightly stepping up the security it will provide for the Schenectady County SummerNight 2018 concert on Friday.

But it may come with a little bit of a higher cost, according to Alex Sutherland, the city’s director of operations. This is because the city will be providing large garbage trucks to block off some of the entrances to the event for security reasons, Sutherland said.

The city provides security and other services for the event each year. 

The city’s cost associated with last year’s concert headlined by the band Blues Traveler came to a total of $31,272.21.

This included equipment and manpower from the Schenectady Police Department for $21,158.35, the Schenectady Fire Department for $8,889.46 and the city’s Office of General Services for $1,224.39.

Sutherland said the city expects the cost for this year’s event to be similar to last year, but they are expecting it to be a little bit higher. That increase is not only associated to the trucks themselves, but the drivers who will be paid overtime to man the trucks and drive them if they need to be moved.

The amount of the increase is unknown, Sutherland said, but added it will be accounted for in the city’s budget for special events.

All of this is done to support the county’s event. But Joe McQueen, director of public relations for the county, said the county doesn’t reimburse the city for those services provided.

That’s because the city is viewed as one of the sponsors of the event.

“It’s a sponsorship cost,” McQueen said. “We cover all the other costs of the event.”

McQueen said the county will spend between $85,000 to $100,000 for the event, but that cost will be covered by sponsorships from several businesses as well as the county hotel bed tax dollars.

This cost includes money for the bands. The '90s rock band Spin Doctors will be headlining this year’s concert, but the cost for them is not yet known.

For headliners, the county paid $32,500 in 2017 for Blues Traveler and $25,000 in 2016 for Gin Blossoms.

McQueen said they will also be providing emergency services that will coordinate with the city police department. This includes members of the Schenectady County Sheriff's Office and the county Auxiliary Police.

The money for security for the event will come through taxpayer dollars either way, said Schenectady County Legislature Majority Leader Gary Hughes.

He said he understands an argument for the county to reimburse the city, but he feels the event does bring a lot of economic activity for the city.

“I think the benefit of an event like SummerNight is the economic activity it brings into downtown, and the awareness of what’s happening downtown and the opportunity for people from everywhere, but many from the city, to have a great family activity right in downtown,” Hughes said.

City Council members John Polimeni and Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas echoed Hughes’ comments as they both said the event brings a lot of people to downtown and provides free entertainment for them.

“I think it’s an important event for the city and the county,” Zalewski-Wildzunas said. “It brings thousands and thousands of people.”

Independent Councilman Vince Riggi said since the the county claims it as its own event, then it should be them taking up at least some of the cost.

“If it’s their event, they should pay,” Riggi said. “Why is the cost just on the city’s shoulders?”

McQueen said the city has brought up the fact that the cost for providing security for the event has been increasing as the event itself grows. He said it’s a conversation the county may have with the city leading into next year’s event.

“It’s something we continue to work on,” McQueen said.

Mayor Gary McCarthy said he still views the event as a joint effort between the city and the county. And that the city looks to lower and offset its costs to provide services for the event.

“It’s a great event,’ McCarthy said, “We’re carrying our portion of it.”

More Info

* The event is free and will take place on State Street between Broadway and Barrett Street and on the Jay Street pedestrian mall.

* It will begin at 5 p.m. with the county’s 2016 and 2017 Battle of the Bands winners Lucy and Bendt opening the show.

* The Spin Doctors will go on at 8:30 p.m. on the GE Main Stage. They will be followed by fireworks provided by Price Chopper and Market 32 at 9:45 p.m. to close out the evening.

* The event will also have activities for kids at the MVP Health Care Kids Corner, which will be put on by the Schenectady YMCA, the Schenectady Boys & Girls Club and miSci.

* The event will also feature the fourth installment of the “Schenectady County Celebrity” cannoli eating contest hosted by Villa Italia.

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