Tribune-Courier News Editor
DRAFFENVILLE– County residents reserving a popular meeting facility may be asked to pay a fee when it reopens next year. The Marshall County Park Board is requesting a usage fee for groups reserving the main pavilion at Mike Miller Park. The Marshall County Fiscal Court considered the request last week, but has not taken action yet.
The pavilion– the park’s largest and adjacent to the playground– is currently closed to private use as it’s reserved for Christmas in the Park. It will be available again in January, but whether or not a fee will be attached remains to be seen.
“We get an awful lot of use for the main pavilion and a lot of it is out-of-county,” said Judge Executive Mike Miller, for whom the park was named. “The other pavilions, as the park board pointed out, would remain free of charge.”
According to the board’s request, county residents would be charged $50 for a four and a half hour time slot. Anything exceeding that will be considered a full-day rental and cost $100. For out-of-county residents, a $75 fee will be imposed for four and a half hours, or $125 for the full day.
Rental does not include the parking lot or playground. There are currently no plans to charge for any of the parks other amenities or pavilions.
If approved, the fees would take effect Jan. 3, 2012.
At last week’s Marshall County Fiscal Court meeting, commissioner Terry Anderson Terry Anderson spoke out against charging county residents for use of the pavilion.
“I’m for it, but I don’t want to charge the Marshall County residents anything,” Anderson said. “They pay enough now. They pay for the entire park.”
Park superintendent Larry Whitt said the board looked at area parks in their consideration of the charge. Whitt said out-of-town renters could find ways around the fee if exemptions were made for local residents.
“They charged at least $100 for their main pavilion,” Whitt said. “We’re very limited in our income right now. This is one of the avenues where we could make some.”
Whitt said the park is looking at future projects, but that the number of revenue generating tournaments was down this year.
“I think people are willing to support the park if there’s projects you need to fund,” said commissioner Misti Drew. “At least if there was something they were trying to pay for to provide for the community, that might help.”
Drew said she would like to compare the differential between out-of-county and local users to see who would be paying the larger portion. Whitt said he was unsure if they would be able to gather that information on past reservations as the park only requires a name and phone number.
Miller said he appreciated the groups who come to Marshall County to utilize the park, but noted the county was responsible for upkeep of the facilities.
The park board’s request was tabled until the next meeting.
Also at last week’s meeting, the court approved for Whitt to gather information about 50 acres which might be acquired as an addition to the park.