May 26, 2011

City Establishes Rental Fees for Park Concessions

After further review, the fee stands. That's the decision of the Memphis City Council regarding its new policy for the rental of the concession stand at Johnson Park.

At the May 5th council meeting, the aldermen voted 4-0 to establish a daily rental fee of $150 for private use of the concession stand at the park. The rate schedule also offers a $300 "weekend" rate for three-day events. A $100 safety deposit will also be required, but is fully refundable.

Organizers for a local benefit softball tournament had asked the council to consider lowering the fee, possibly reducing it by half to $75 a day.

The council considered the request, comparing the rates to similar fees charged by surrounding communities. The City of Palmyra, which Memphis is modeling its new parks program after, charges $80 a day to reserve the park plus $20 per hour for lights.

"What people need to understand is that we have established these fees to generate money they will perpetuate the park and its services," said Alderman Lucas Remley.

The council noted the plan is for the city to operate the concession stand at Johnson Park this summer for as many events as possible to help generate revenue for the parks system.

New bases have been ordered for the ball field and improvements have been made to address drainage problems in the outfield.

The council also discussed the need to purchase field maintenance equipment, such as a utility vehicle to power the various field drags.

"I think some people may have been caught off guard by the fee schedule, since it is something that is new and has never been done before," Alderman Allen Creek noted.

Alderman Chris Feeney highlighted the fact that the city had not previously earmarked this type of money for park upgrades and improvements either, meaning efforts to enhance revenue streams for the parks will directly coincide with future upgrades for the park system.

There will be no charge for ball teams and other entities to schedule to use the ball field. The only time fees will be required is when groups wish to use the concession stand, forcing the city to remove its concession supplies to allow private sales for special events.

In a related matter, the council discussed the creation of a special use permit, to allow groups to reserve public facilities for special events, such as the Old Lake Bash. Currently city ordinance prohibits the presence of alcoholic beverages on city property. Such a permit could exclude approved events from this restriction.

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