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updated: 3/20/2013 12:39 AM

Aurora council starts talking contracts for Music Garden

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Construction of the Music Garden at RiverEdge Park in Aurora is complete, so now the city is moving on to another phase of development to ready the park for its June 14 grand opening.

A couple contracts the city council began considering Tuesday involve getting the Music Garden's furniture, fixtures and equipment in place and ready to go before it hosts Blues on the Fox on June 14 and 15, said Stephane Phifer, planning and zoning director.

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The first contract is for a cash register system to support purchases of food, beverages and event tickets at the park. If the city council approves it, the system will cost no more than $150,000 under a deal with Retail Control Solutions of Bensenville that includes equipment, installation, software and training.

The Aurora Civic Center Authority, which the city hired to manage the Music Garden for its first two seasons, researched vendors and selected Retail Control Solutions because it offered the lowest price and 24-hour customer service, said Erika Miller, vice president of finance and human resources.

The cash register system will track revenue from food and alcoholic beverage sales, which will help determine the amount of commission the park's main food vendor -- Two Brothers Roundhouse -- must pay for its prime spot in the permanent kitchen, Miller said.

Alderman Scheketa Hart-Burns said the city got a good deal on the contract because the Civic Center Authority already uses Retail Control Solutions for cash registers at the two theaters it operates, the Paramount and the Copley.

But alderman Rick Lawrence questioned the cost, both of the cash registers and of the other contract considered Tuesday night, a $172,137 expenditure to install fiber cabling and network hardware for Internet connectivity at the park.

He asked how often the park will host events, and Miller said concerts and festivals will take place every Friday and Saturday during the summer and some Sundays and weekdays.

"This seems like an extremely expensive system for a thing that's not used that much," Lawrence said about the cash register system. "Why wasn't this all put in with the original design?"

Phifer said the cash register system and conduit for fiber broadband connectivity both were incorporated into park plans -- just not under the construction management contract given to R.C. Wegman Construction Company in May 2011.

"They were all costs that were foreseen and they all were budgeted," Phifer said.

The contract for fiber cabling would fund work to connect the park to the city's broadband network and allow systems such as the cash registers to function using the Internet, said Jim Dahl, the city's management information systems director.

"There is connectivity right across the street from the park," Dahl said. "It is there, it just isn't in the park."

The city council is scheduled to vote separately on the two contracts during its next meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 26.

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