Sports leagues must pay to play at town facilities, councilors decide
ALETA KAYLAKE PLACID - The Town of Lake Placid has instituted user fees for organized sports leagues that use town facilities.
Published: November 21, 2012
Published: November 21, 2012
The decision was made at Monday's town council meeting where heated discussion took place on the subject, which has been discussed quite a bit for the last few months.
Last month, councilors passed a motion to charge athletic events for usage of lights, including the electricity needed to run the concession stands. They also agreed at that time to charge a $20 per person usage fee for each event.
Director of Parks and Recreation, John Komasa, disagreed with the motion and requested another meeting.
Councilman Ray Royce met with Komasa after the October meeting and drew up a new motion.
However, when it was presented at Monday night's council meeting, there was a great deal of misunderstanding.
Royce's updated proposal kept the participation fee at $20 per user per game. They agreed to drop any charges for the use of ballfield lighting or electrical use of infrastructure or facilities.
The parks and recreation committee agreed with everything except the usage fees. They wanted them dropped to $10 per user, per game.
Royce made a motion to accept the new terms, saying, "I feel that I have gone as far as I can with the concessions I've made. We need resources in place solely directed to the capital costs of maintaining the parks: fencing, lawn mower, refrigeration, etc."
Councilman Michael Waldron seconded the motion while a spokesperson for the parks and recreation committee said they simply could not afford to pay the $20 charge.
Randy Ayers stood up and gave the statistics of the cost to the leagues and members to use the facilities.
After about 40 minutes of heated discussion, Councilwoman Debra Worley turned to Mayor John Holbrook and said, "I wish you had a vote in this because this is getting us nowhere."
"If I did, I'd vote no," he said. "It feels as if we're taxing the residents twice, once for living here and owning property, and again for using public facilities that their tax dollars are already paying for."
Councilman Steve Bastardi disagreed.
"The town has gone well beyond what it should to accommodate the recreation of the town. Thirty-five thousand people attend the events, which are paid for by 2,000 people. It doesn't make sense to undo it," he added.
Although the town hires someone to take care of maintaining the grounds and its facilities, many of the parents, coaches and members of the various leagues and committees and their children also do a lot of work to keep the parks in shape, some pointed out.
A parent stood up and said the leagues had made concessions, too, and the town had to be willing to do some giving.
Finally, Bill Compton stood up and said, "I don't understand why these people are arguing. You're giving them a two-thirds reduction in their cost to use the park and they still aren't happy."
The mayor and council unanimously voted to accept Royce's motion that the town pay the electrical fees as outlined while the leagues and organizations pay the $20 usage fee.
Highlands County reimburses Lake Placid for recreation charges up to $110,000.
Meanwhile, Jon Millions has resigned his position as head of the Recreation Committee. Bastardi said it was a sad commentary that Millions had not had any satisfaction from the mayor and council in his four-year tenure in his position.