GARLAND — The town board has implemented a park rental fee schedule that will help offset needed maintenance and upkeep at the park, while ensuring the facilities can be kept to a standard that would promote future use.
Such rental fees for the park, fields and the concession stand have been considered in recent months, and were brought back to the table at this week’s Garland Board of Commissioners meeting.
“To generate some income for the recreational field, we did get the handicap toilet installed a few weeks ago,” said Mayor Winifred Murphy. “We want to continue to be able to improve this field and maintain it, but we can’t do that without generating some revenue. We’ve got to get this field going so that we can enjoy it, the kids can enjoy it and families can enjoy it.”
Murphy presented a draft of fees, but said that it was merely a proposal and there would need to be an application fee. The mayor said the schedule of proposed fees were based on those utilized by the city of Clinton.
“We do have teams out there on a consistent basis on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” said Murphy. “Whenever it is consistent, in my opinio, that is more than just going for a pick-up game. If someone is out there using that field on a consistent basis, we need some revenue generated for this field, just for maintenance and upkeep of it.”
Murphy said the fee schedule was similar to the recently implemented building and rental fees approved and instated by the town.
“Just like with our building rental fees that we adopted a fee months ago, we are not trying to make a profit, we are just trying to break even,” said Murphy. “We need to generate some funds. We’ve mentioned getting some soccer nets. We need picnic tables and the shelters that we’re talking about. We need to generate some funds. Yes, we have allocated some money for recreation, but again there’s no guarantee that we will collect all the revenue that we projected.”
According to the draft of the schedule, field rentals (hourly rate, eight hour maximum) would be $20 for baseball, softball and soccer for in-town residents, and $40 for non-residents. Long-term rentals (six hours per week, 3 month maximum) would be $40 per week for baseball, softball and soccer fields and $25 per week for open space.
“I think we do need to adopt some kind of charges for it. I think that it sort of has to be if it is a sanctioned deal,” Commissioner Ralph Smith said. “I really don’t think that, if a half dozen people decide they want to go out there and play, that there should be any charges. But if it’s teams, then it’s something else.”
Commissioner Matthew Register also expressed apprehension with charging a small group of children who went out there to spontaneously play some ball.
“That worries me a little bit too, the wording of it,” said Register. “Every time I ride by the basketball courts in Roseboro, there are kids out there playing and I know the town’s not charging them. That’s kind of like the guys out there playing (organized) soccer. They haven’t been playing a whole lot lately, but there are going to be people out there probably in the spring. We have to be really (careful) the way we word it about it being organized and unorganized.”
He said organized soccer clubs that bring nearly 50 or more people to the park was much different than a pick-up basketball game, or even a small softball practice on a Sunday afternoon.
“We want to encourage activity at the park, so you don’t want to start making people pay to use the park just for an afternoon,” said Register.
“We’re not trying to charge people for use of the park, but just for maintenance and upkeep of it,” stressed Murphy. “We just need to get your approval to move on with this. This is a draft and we can talk about the fees and so forth. We have to draft a usage application as well as look at whether it’s 10 or 12 (people) or 30 or 40. Sometimes it’s a huge number and I have seen people dodging balls and getting hit.”
There was some talk amongst the board about possibly reconfiguring the soccer field so that it did not impede those walking on the nearby track, however those talks will be ongoing. A few residents raised concerns of the close proximity to the fields and getting struck by soccer balls while they were trying to utilize the track.
Register brought up the possibility of having an elongated walking trail that might better coexist with soccer fields. That way, the soccer fields could stay where they are and the trail could be modified somewhat. No action was taken, with the matter to continue to be discussed.
Smith brought the talk back to fees.
“If it goes into teamwork, then I think we need to charge,” said Smith, “but if it’s just half a dozen people who just want to go out there and play or something, I think that’s a different thing.”
The draft states that half the fees are due as a security deposit upon reservation. Groups are responsible for cleaning trash and ensuring that the park is in good condition. A $50 cleanup fee will be assessed for each time the park is not cleaned, the draft states.
Priority will be given to agencies located inside the Garland town limits.
All rates are doubled for profit events, according to the draft. Groups charging admission to events will be required to verify their receipts and remit 15 percent of the receipts to the town of Garland in addition to the rental fees. No group will be allowed to charge entry fees without approval prior to renting a facility, even those under long-term agreements.
“Short term we can establish fees and try to get the park built up — we’ve got the signs up now — and that maybe will eliminate some of the vandalism,” said Murphy.
Commissioner said they believed the fees looked good, with some additional wording and clarification to be attached to some of the fees in the near future.
“I think the fees are exactly where they need to be, it’s just the wording,” Register said.
“I think so too,” Smith said.
Register made a motion to adopt the park rental fee schedule, seconded by Smith. The vote was unanimous.
No concession stand fees were included as part of the park rental fee schedule, which is subject to further modification. Murphy stressed it was a draft. Board members said any funds for the park are direly needed.
“The fields need some TLC, there’s no doubt,” said Register.
In other business, the board considered three bids for the painting of the interior of town hall, ultimately awarding the bid to Johnny Gibbs, who Murphy noted works as a painter for Sampson County Schools. The bid was for $650 for entire building with oil paint, $1,000 primer and latex paint. The bid includes labor costs only, with the town picking up the additional tab for the paint.
Register made the motion to award the bid to Gibbs, and the vote was unanimous.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.