UPDATE: City of Hampton receives check from Bay Days after festival cancelled

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – 10 On Your Side has confirmed  the City of Hampton received a $10,000 check from Bay Days event organizers on Thursday.

This new information comes a day after 10 On Your Side’s Brandi Cummings reported the city was working to get back $10,646.73 in taxpayer money from Bay Days, Inc. after the organization failed to have a three-day festival as originally planned.

On Wednesday, spokeswoman for the city of Hampton Robin McCormick told 10 On Your Side the city had not received the money. But Bay Days Director Chuck Leavines told 10 On Your Side’s Brandi Cummings late Wednesday the check was sent to the city on Monday.

The Bay Days festival has existed for more than 30 years. However, during a June city council meeting Leavines made a shocking announcement.

“The Bay Days Foundation and board of directors have decided to cancel the event for 2015,” Leavines told council members.

The announcement came after the city of Hampton decided to cut funding for 2016.

According to a letter 10 On Your Side obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request, on July 29, Hampton Bay Days applied for a permit for a one day event, but the application missed the city’s deadline.

Despite that, the city approved the event but made it clear that the $50,000 in taxpayer money that had been given was for a three-day Bay Days event and no city money was to be used for the ‘Music in the Park.’

On September 10, 10 On Your Side spoke to Leavines. 10 On Your Side’s Brandi Cummings asked him then, “Where is that money now?” Leavines said: “We are negotiating with the city now to return those funds.”

Six days after our interview, Bay Days Inc. gave a $39,353.27 check, along with a list of expenses to the city.

The expenses included $4,046.73 for extra duty police and $5,600 to Nathan Watts. According to Watts’ LinkedIn profile, he is the Bay Days Corporate Sponsorship Director.

Cummings went to two different office locations Wednesday trying to talk to someone with the organization on camera but got no answers.

In a letter dated September 20, the Hampton city attorney told Bay Days they had 14 days to return the rest of the money or face a lawsuit.

While Cummings was on the air reporting this story for the 4 p.m. newscast, Leavines returned her calls from earlier in the day. He said Bay Days didn’t get the letter from the city until last week because it was sent to the wrong address.

Cummings asked McCormick via email, “Based on the current circumstances, will the city of Hampton sever ties with Bay Days and prevent the group from hosting another event in the future?” To which she replied: “It would be premature to make any decisions at this time.”

During its Wednesday night council meeting, Hampton city leaders are expected to approve an ordinance changing the rules for Special Events. Cummings asked McCormick if the changes had anything to do with the situation going on with the Bay Days event.

McCormick responded, “No. The change speaks to an overall desire to make festivals and special events permitting a more clear and simple process. Neighborhood groups, in particular, have asked for a simpler process for smaller events. Also, several groups sought the ability to have special events on private property. This process is clear and easy to follow and should facilitate a City Council goal of having more and varied festivals/events throughout the city.”

Click here to read the entire proposed ordinance.

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