City considers bids to manage pavilion

Manassas city officials are considering two bids from organizations that want to take over management of the Loy E. Harris Pavilion in Old Town.

Since the pavilion’s opening in December 2001, the structure has been run by nonprofit Historic Manassas Inc., which has a $185,000 contract with the city for the present fiscal year. But now, HMI’s future management of the building is an open question.

City Manager Lawrence Hughes would not say whether one of the two bids under study was from HMI.

“We’ve received responses, we’ve talked to respondents, and now we’re preparing a recommendation,” he said.

Completed more than a year ago as part of a $2 million city project, the 7,200-square-foot pavilion is an ice skating rink during the winter and a place for parties, receptions and other community events during the rest of the year.

The structure is named after a former HMI president. The late Harris owned a local insurance company and has been credited with helping spur the initial investment in Old Town during the mid-1990s.

Now, management of the structure may no longer rest in the hands of the organization he helped run. Tricia Davis, HMI’s executive director, points out that the pavilion was originally proposed by the organization.

“We know what the community wants,” Davis said, “so it seems logical that we would be the ones running it.”

The City Council, however, made the decision back in the spring of 2002 that it would seek other offers to manage the pavilion.

Councilman Robert (Bob) Oliver says the council wants to see if the city’s contract with HMI was competitive. The council, he said, is also interested in what ideas for programming other bidders might come up with.

“We want to see what the private sector has to offer,” Oliver said.

City Council members will go over bids at a Finance Committee meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.

Staff writer Chris Newmarker can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 119.

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