(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of articles about the development of the Great Bend Convention Center.)
In the past, the local convention center served a particular niche in the business plan for the Highland Hotel, but now that it is the Great Bend Convention Center, now that it belongs to the community and the community will pick up the tab, city officials area considering how to make it more open to the community.
City Administrator Howard Partington explained to the Great Bend City Council this week that presents one of the policy challenges as city officials work with Highland Hotel staff on the separate development of the two facilities.
Partington stressed it is important, for example, for the city to have a policy that will allow for outside food vendors, when appropriate, at the convention center.
Previously, for example, if there was a wedding reception in the convention building, the food had to be provided through the hotel. That needs to be able to change.
On the other hand, it is reasonable for the hotel to continue to provide that service as a package when a convention is developed that uses the convention center for meetings that also spill over into rooms in the hotel.
It presents a challenge, the city administrator noted, because of the mix of events that continue to link the two facilities.
City Attorney Bob Suelter told the Great Bend City Council Monday night that the staff will also continue to have long distance conversations with the owner of the hotel and work on getting one of the operatives, Lyle Patel, to come to a future council meeting.
In the mean time, Suelter stressed, the events that are already booked in the facility have to keep running, even as the city staff continues to develop plans for the future of the facility, separate from the hotel.
This week the city council agreed to continue the city’s agreement with the Highland staff to operate the facility for events over at least the next 60 days as work continues to facilitate the change over to city ownership.