I am writing in response to agree in part, and disagree in part with Jennifer Bett's letter. Ms. Bett is entirely correct when she says "The Ben Avon borough hall is a beautiful building with a great second floor hall…" We in Ben Avon are lucky to have such a beautiful, historic building.
The borough hall rental fee schedule was last updated in the mid-1980s. As everyone is aware, costs have only increased since then. As our borough building is "up there" in age, so are our costs to operate and maintain the building. Ben Avon residents pay to maintain the building for borough business, or for non-profit organizations that significantly contribute to Ben Avon (e.g. Boy Scouts, Avon Club). Those who wish to host private functions, such as parties, in the borough building should pay a fee, as it goes above and beyond the normal use of the building. That is not to say, however, that Ben Avon residents should not be offered a discount. The rental agreement as amended provides a 30 percent discount for Ben Avon residents. The agreement prior to the March Ben Avon Council meeting had no such provision.
Ms. Bett does point out a problem faced by owners of any historic property. It needs renovation. Unfortunately, the borough hasn't the budget for large scale renovations. The loss of the Ben Avon Heights fire contract, our continued need to pave roads, and fix deteriorating infrastructure has limited the amount of work we are able to do on the borough building.
All of us, including borough employees, elected officials and private users of the building, want upgrades to the facility. Perhaps we can work together in a fund-raiser toward that end. At the same time, if there is any aspect of the building that Ms. Bett deems unsafe, I encourage her to contact the borough office, and we will take all actions necessary to correct the problem.
The Ben Avon borough building is the one of best municipal buildings in the North Boroughs. Many people have rented the facility over the past few months, and the number of renters continues to increase. It is indeed, in Ms. Bett's own words, "the best kept rental secret…ideal for small gatherings and community events." With such a rave review, I hope more people will take advantage of the space.
Ben Avon Council