Police keep watch as people gather in a public park in Westbrook in this CBS 13 image. City officials are considering fees for use of city-owned property to cover the costs of police details and other public services. Credit: CBS 13

Groups looking to host events in Westbrook on city-owned property may soon have to reach in their pockets.

The city council is considering charging an “event fee” for large groups looking to hold events on city-owned property.

Over the next few weeks, Westbrook’s city council subcommittee will be making changes and reviewing the amendment before it goes before councilors again.

If approved, hosting events at places like Riverside Park could cost you.

For years, City Administrator Jerre Bryant says Westbrook hasn’t had a consistent plan when it comes to staffing and hosting events in the city.

He says, as a result, the city’s been taken advantage of.

“Event sponsors were coming to us and saying, ‘We’re coming to Westbrook because you’re free, and every other place charges us’,” Bryant said. “So suddenly we were burdening our police department, our fire department and our taxpayer, because if the event sponsor is not covering the cost of that police officer on detail, the taxpayer is.”

The proposal would require event organizers to put down a $500 security deposit and pay fees starting at $200.

“A city park, a city building, a city street, a road race closes down a street for a period of time, that requires police services and the fee, if you will, would be what the cost was for those services,” Bryant said.

City officials say they don’t want the new policy to affect local non-profits.

City councilors say they expect to review the revised proposal in coming weeks, and then they’ll vote on it.

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