Fees, rules OK’d for Festival Park

Published 7:48 pm Thursday, March 15, 2012

The picnic shelter at Festival Park on Washington’s waterfront proved a popular spot to eat lunch and enjoy sunshine and warm temperatures Thursday. (WDN Photo/Mike Voss)

Festival Park is free and open to the public, but some fees will charged for some events and activities that take place there.

During its meeting Monday, the Washington City Council approved a fee schedule for the park and a set of park rules. The fees were recommended by a focus group consisting of “major event partners and sponsors” that discussed the proposed fees. Its recommendation was accepted by the Recreation Advisory Committee, which recommended the proposal be presented to the council for adoption, according to a memorandum from Parks and Recreation Director Phil Mobley to the mayor and council.

The public may use the picnic shelter or other park amenities at no cost, as long as another user has not reserved the park and/or its amenities. Should an individual, family or others desire to reserve any or all of the park and/or its amenities — picnic area, stage, green space — then fees would be charged, according to Kristi Hardison, facilities and events manager for the Parks and Recreation Department. The fees charged would depend on what facilities and amenities are being used, if electricity is required and the duration of the event or activity.

The fee schedule includes two sets of fees for “private” users of the park and/or its amenities. The first set deals with an event lasting no more than four hours. The second set covers an event more than four hours on one day.

Under the fee schedule, established city partners — Beaufort County Arts Council, East Carolina Wildfowl Guild, N.C. Estuarium, Washington Harbor District Alliance, Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce, Washington (noon) Rotary and Washington Tourism Development Authority — would be charged some reduced fees for their use of the park for a three-day maximum. They would not have to pay a refundable deposit, which other users would pay.

A partner-sponsored event, according to the fee schedule, is an event organized by a “Washington-based nonprofit that brings reasonable economic and/or community impact to the City of Washington.”

Councilman Doug Mercer said he has reservations regarding the fees that would be charged to the nonprofits that use the park and its amenities for some of their fundraising events. He suggested lower fees for them should be considered.

“They’re turning all that money back in to activities within the town, and I’d like to see them maximize that money if we can,” Mercer said.

Mayor Archie Jennings told Mercer he appreciates that concern.

“As is most cases in something like this, you’ve got to start somewhere,” Jennings said. “The preparation and thought clearly has gone into this. I’d like to see us start here. If we see a trend that somehow leaves a hole in this schedule, we can come back and revisit that down the road.”

Mayor Pro Tempore Bobby Roberson responded by saying, “Mayor, I’m sure they’re (the public) going to give us calls about the fees. … They call us about fees all the time.”

Mobley explained not all uses of the park require fees.

“If you want to go down there and use that (picnic) shelter, you and your family, and nobody’s using it, it’s free,” Mobley told the council.

Reserving the picnic shelter will result in fees being charged, he added.

Details about the fees are available by calling the Parks and Recreation Department at 252-975-9367

For park rules, click www.wdnweb.com/2012/03/15/festival-park-rules/

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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