Mayor's plan to hike Fresno park fees delayed

FRESNO, Calif.

"People come here to have fun and play with their kids and paying ten dollars is ridiculous."

City Council Members Oliver Baines, and Blong Xiong fear the increase will hurt those who can afford it least.

"I'm worried that it's going to keep some of my constituents from going from attending the parks on those days, I'm actually worried about that." Baines said. Xion added,

"A segment of the population is not going to be able to go to the park because of this ten dollar increase."

But, Assistant City Manager Bruce Rudd argued that since the parks are busiest on the Holiday Weekends, it makes good business sense to charge more.

"There is a high demand and a high impact on the entire park facility therefore the justification for charging is market demand, market driven." He told the City Council.

Rudd says the extra money would go to pay crews to clean up the parks during the busy weekends. He notes that when the city raised entry fees to $5 from $3 last year, attendance didn't drop. But Mary Schluter of Fresno, who regularly comes to Woodward Park, thinks a $5 increase will keep folks away.

"Only because the average family is watching every dollar they have and of course they want to come out and enjoy the park, they want their kids to enjoy the park but the more kids you have the more you're watching your money, it's inhibitory."

Figures from the City of Fresno show nearly 300,000 vehicle entry fees were collected at Roeding and Woodward Parks in 2010. The fees, then $3 generated about $1.1 million. The recent Easter Sunday weekend saw about 2,000 visitors at each park.

The Mayor's plan also calls for raising fees for the rentals of picnic tables and Gazebo's in the parks. On Thursday, the City Council decided to put off voting on the matter for a month. They plan to schedule two community meetings to see what the public has to say.

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