While the idea was discussed only a couple months, Leavenworth city commissioners are not going to be asked to approve a general admission fee for Sportsfield.
According to a policy report prepared for Tuesday’s scheduled City Commission meeting, the Parks and Recreation Department and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board are not recommending such a fee.
The decision is a reversal from a recommendation made during a Sept. 4 City Commission study session. At the time, representatives of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board made arguments for charging such a fee.
Last year, city commissioners voted to do away with a $1 admission fee that was implemented after improvements were made to the park that has baseball and softball fields. At the time, only one commissioner, Laura Janas Gasbarre, voted in favor of keeping the fee.
“I always felt it was more of like a user fee,” Gasbarre said when asked this week about the fee.
She argued the fee can help pay for the maintenance of Sportsfield, which she said is “so much nicer” because of the improvements.
Gasbarre, who is now the mayor pro-tem, also said officials in other locations charge fees for athletic events.
“I’ve never been anywhere else that didn’t charge some sort of fee,” she said.
Mayor Larry Dedeke has opposed the fee.
“Taxpayers have paid for those improvements (at Sportsfield),” he said.
Dedeke said he can’t see charging a fee for whatever little money it generates, if it will possibly keep some families from being able to attend games. He said it can get expensive for families who go to games three or four times a week if they’re charged admission fees.
Commissioner Mark Preisinger said this week that it’s hard for him to be convinced the city should charge the admission fee.
“But there may be other arguments I have not heard yet,” he said.
Preisinger questioned how much money a $1 fee would raise because someone would have to paid to collect the money. And if more was charged for admission, it could be a cost factor for families.
Commissioner Davis Moulden expressed mixed feelings on the issue. He said he personally feels people shouldn’t have to pay an admission fee.
“But you have to pay for it somehow,” he said, referring to Sportsfield.
Commissioner Phil Urban said he feels “kind of both ways” on the issue. He said he sees the point of how parents may not be able to afford to pay the fee for themselves and their children.
But he noted that many places charge fees and a lot of money goes into Sportsfield.
Page 2 of 2 - Urban said he would be in favor of charging a fee if parents of children who play games at the park could receive passes to get into games for free.
This is an idea that was suggested during the Sept. 4 study session.
“I don’t know if that’s doable,” Urban said.
Local businessman Hersch Chapman donated $5,000 to the city last year to help offset the revenue lost by not charging an admission fee.
He argued fewer people would attend games at Sportsfield if an admission fee is charged.
During the Sept. 4 study session, Tabor Medill, the city’s recreation program supervisor of sports, said attendance of games played at Sportsfield during the last summer season totaled 16,654.
According to Julie Anderson, Parks and Recreation director for the city, the projected annual maintenance cost for Sportsfield is $14,246 for personnel and $7,753 for equipment and materials.