EARLY— With the March 29 unveiling of the Early Visitor and Event Center just under three weeks away the Early City Council resolved a few policy issues moving forward.

In anticipation for the opening of the $1.5 million facility, the council unanimously approved creating a rental fee structure based on encouraging hotel stays from those who reserve the building.

“Our goal was not necessarily to make money off the facility or cover the costs, but also make it affordable so it can be used,” Early Administrator Tony Aaron said. “It has built in discounts for documented non-profit organizations as well as other documented ways of reducing the rate with hotel stays.”

From Monday through Thursday, a full-day rental will cost $300 and $500 Friday, Saturday or Sunday with a 50 percent security deposit. Renting the facility for half the day will run $150 and $250 Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Aaron said the facility courtyard will also be for rent, barring use of the main complex, for $75 Monday through Thursday and $150 Friday through Sunday. The courtyard cannot be booked if an occupant already booked the main facility.

“This is a visitor and event center and we’re trying to drive hotel stays in Early,” Aaron said. “In trying to better those industries, if [renters] can prove 25 to 49 room night stays, then they receive a 25 percent discount. Between 50 to 74 get a 50 percent discount, 75 to 99 get 75 percent; and if they have 100 or more room night stays they get the facility for free. If you have 10 people staying for four nights, then that equals 40 room nights.”

 Creating a rental fee structure was not the only concern city councilmen had for the new facility. With the March 29 grand opening just around the corner, city councilmen gave final approval to the event’s coup de grace. As previously reported by The Bulletin, the Early Travel and Convention Bureau looked to reschedule the Early Texas Showcase Firework Show last July after torrential rainfall forced its cancellation.

“This is the same company we contract every year for the showcase fireworks,” Larry McConn, assistant city administrator, said. “As you remember, last year the showcase got rained out. The agreed for a $100 or $200 fee they would shoot those fireworks off at our leisure. It was whatever we chose, but it could not be a full year away. We could not push it back to this year’s showcase. We had to come up with a reason to have fireworks and not just lose money so what better way than to open our new events center?”

The council also:

Approved parking lot paving for a new Dollar General Store on Early Boulevard. Approved a municipal development district grant grant request by Legacy IT and Wildfire Truck Sales & Outdoor. Discussed bids for coastal Bermuda grass and fertilizer/herbicide for the new visitor center.