Park Fees Increase

6/28/2008 Fresno, CA Roeding Park is home to the Chaffee Zoo and there are concerns a fee increase into the park may keep out-of-towners out of the zoo.

Right now the city of Fresno charges a $3 a car entry fee to get into the city's parks. Next week that fee was supposed to go up to $5 for non-residents, but that increase may be delayed as the city of Fresno works on a compromise with the Chaffee zoo, which sits inside Roeding Park.

"The price just keeps escalating and I feel like it will drive families away that really need to be able to enjoy it," said Fresno resident Maggie Patterson.

Mona Hernandez also thought an increase is unfair. "Hey still have to pay to come in here, plus an extra five dollars. For them to charge that much, I think it's wrong," said Hernandez.

Back in 2004, voters from throughout Fresno County approved Measure Z, a sales tax increase that amounts to more than $100 million for the zoo in the next ten years. A fee increase into the park would mean county residents would be charged more to enjoy the zoo they're already supporting through the tax increase. "I just want to make sure we can provide them with a zoo that they can have access to and enjoy," said Zoo Director Lewis Greene.

Greene, said the city of Fresno is now working on a compromise with the zoo that would delay the fee increase by a month and ease the burden on zoo attendees. "If they come to the zoo, we could reimburse them for the extra two dollars if they're from outside the city and then we would have to be reimbursed by the city," said Greene.

The fee increase applies to both of the city's big parks and the regional sports complex. The city's Parks Director, Randy Cooper, said the increase is necessary and told Action News quote, "We've improved the parks substantially, but it takes dollars. We want to maintain the high standards of the parks and the improvements we've made," said Cooper.

At $5 a vehicle, some still think the park is a bargain. "If you're coming into the park just to go the zoo, it seems a little steep, but if you take advantage of all the other stuff at the park, it seems fair," said Roger Cook of Madera.

The Fresno City Council will vote on the compromise with the zoo on Tuesday. If the council agrees, the fee increase wouldn't go in effect until August 1st.

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