St. Helens approves new parks reservation fees
The St. Helens City Council is doing away with exclusive use permits for its parks and will instead be implementing a new series of session reservations, which would allow users to block off periods of time for use of park amenities or fields.
On Wednesday, Aug. 21, the St. Helens City Council voted unanimously to approve a new fee schedule for reservations of city parks, including the reservation of sports fields, gazebos and picnic areas in Campbell, McCormick, 6th Street, Columbia View and Godfrey parks, as well as the softball fields near the recreation center in the city's industrial park area, often referred to as the Boise fields.
Park fees will generally range from $5 to $25 per session, but the price for each park and each amenity varies. Sessions are also defined as three- to five-hour blocks of time, depending on the park and if someone is reserving a field or other amenity. As an example, use of the Veterans Pavilion in McCormick Park or the gazebo amphitheater in Columbia View Park will incur a fee of $25 for a three-hour session between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., whereas reserving other park areas would only cost $15 per session.
Further, reserving softball fields for a five-hour session at McCormick Park or Campbell Park will now cost $10, while baseball or T-ball field reservations at 6th Street Park or McCormick will cost $5 per five-hour session.
Use of lighting at McCormick and Campbell parks in the evening will incur a $25 fee, an increase from the previous fee of $10.
The change in fees will allow the city to collect more revenue that can be used for park maintenance. City Finance Director Matt Brown also noted by email that by getting rid of exclusive use forms, it will allow more people access to the fields.
Jeff Kroll, president of the St. Helens Softball League approached the City Council while the change in fees was being discussed. The softball league has retained exclusive use permits to have access to the softball fields at Campbell Park and the Boise fields for many years.
The league also had a five-year lease agreement which is set to expire in October with Boise that transferred to the city when it bought the property in 2014. The agreement allowed the team to lease the fields for a miniscule fee with the caveat that parent volunteers would commit hundreds of hours of time and use of their equipment to maintain the fields.
Kroll asked if the council could find some leniency in the fees, in exchange for the sweat equity that has been put in to maintain the fields.
After approving the new parks reservation fees, the council also agreed to work with Kroll and city staff to
find middle ground on the issue.
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