2/14/2020 10:33:00 AM Park usage fee gets early look
Chisago County’s Park Board has sent a recommendation to the County Commissioners to adopt a new user fee and tournament/large event fee for county parks. The County Board discussed the proposal February 5, with new County Parks Director Joe Tart and Environmental Services Department Director Kurt Schneider.
County park shelters and two official campsites at Ki-Chi-Saga Park are already available for reservation under a separate fee policy. Costs are $35 weekdays for shelters, $60 weeekends for residents and $75 weekends-daily for non-residents. The campsite daily reservation is $15.
These shelter fees are not slated for changes.
New fees would entail collecting from leagues, schools and other organizations, etc. a $10 “per user”(participant) charge, or $15 for each out-of-county or “non-affiliated” resident. The most-affected park is Ki Chi Saga, south of Lindstrom, as none of the other county owned parks attract much use by organized athletics.
The new policy allows fields to be used for two hours’ practice a day and games will be limited to four hours. Soccer fields are limited to four hours per day per field. Park lacrosse and flag football users are limited to three hours daily and can use two fields. Weekend use will be held to five hours any one day.
Types of sports uses are being regulated based on the wear and tear on the turf and impacts on overall enjoyment of a park and specifically for Ki-Chi-Saga Park, its growing capital needs.
And, a tournament fee of $300 (large event) with a refundable damage deposit of $500 is proposed in the policy.
Chisago County is home to a couple other popular ballfield complexes, in Stacy and Almelund, but these are not “county owned.”
Staff said facilities in Forest Lake, for example, charge ten-times what the Chisago Park Board is recommending. Director Joe Tart said $300 for a tournament is “on the low end” of all locations looked at.
The County Board was split, with two commissioners all for approving adopting fees immediately and three commissioners opting to wait for feedback once known users get word of the new policy.
There was an initial motion by Mike Robinson that failed 2-3 with only Rick Greene supporting.
Robinson said the park board reviewed this fee structure at-length and he said the policy can always be re-visited if there’s opposition. Commissioner Greene said there will be reservations coming in very soon for summer play and he wanted something in place immediately.
Park Director Tart said he’s been informing callers already requesting reservations, to wait for the fees to be final.
Commissioner Chris DuBose then motioned to send a notice to known parks users and move this policy action to a March meeting agenda. DuBose and George McMahon pleaded to delay action until users have a chance to provide input. They felt the groups affected might have suggestions on accomplishing needed park projects, or to make the revenue side of this work even better. McMahon, obviously referencing the fumbled emergency radio user contract, said he has learned to not adopt something without those most-impacted being notified beforehand.
Commissioner Ben Montzka, whose district contains no county park, voted with McMahon and DuBose.
Discussion last week was centered on Ki-Chi-Saga County Park, and its unmet capital and maintenance needs-- but whatever policy gets adopted by the Board would be applied to all county parks.