Editor's note: This story was updated at 5:05 p.m. An earlier version included incorrect funding details for work to the parks.
SCHENECTADY -- The cost to use most city-owned parks and fields for sports and other events could go up, if newly proposed fees are approved at Monday’s City Council meeting.
The higher fees are being proposed by City Council members John Polimeni and John Mootooveren.
They come after approximately $1.5 million from the state were used in upgrades for Central Park, including renovations to the A diamond baseball field, the Music Haven Stage and tennis courts. The city set aside $430,000 in its capital budget for upgrades to the A diamond and the Music Haven Stage in its 2018 budget.
The A diamond, which had fallen into disuse, has new sod, irrigation, bases, fencing, dugouts, a scoreboard and replacing the grass with synthetic turf.
“You have upgrades to the field and to the facility, and you have increased maintenance costs,” Polimeni said. “We have to account for all of those things.”
The new fees were unanimously approved during a Monday meeting of the city's Health and Recreation Committee. Committee members are Polimeni, Mootooveren and independent Councilman Vince Riggi, though Riggi said during the meeting he was not involved in crafting the fee structure. The committee's approval moves the matter to the full City Council.
Polimeni stressed no opposition to the new fees was voiced by any of the other council members Monday.
The proposed fees break out as follows:
- The A diamond field fees will go from $75 to $125 per game -- and $200 for a doubleheader.
- Use of the lights for night games at the A diamond field go from $75 to $125 per game.
- The B diamond field fees will remain at $75 per game, and $125 for a doubleheader.
- The C diamond field fees will go from $75 to $100 per game, and $175 for a doubleheader.
- The softball field fees will go from $25 to $100 per game.
- All other field fees will be $100.
There will also be a requirement for any sports leagues using the fields to pay a $1,500 security deposit. Leagues will be required to pay half at the beginning of the season and half during the second half of the season.
The same goes for events with 500 people or more, which could include non-profits, at the discretion of Mayor Gary McCarthy. Event organizers also will be required to hire one security guard for every 250 people at an event.
The deposit is meant to cover potential cleanup of the parks and fields by city crews. If any league's entire security deposit were required to clean up after that league, the city would no longer issue permits to that league.
For non-league games, there will be a $250-per-day security deposit.
There will also be a $225-per-police-car fee if police are called to an event in the parks for a legitimate public safety reason. That fee will be waived for medical calls.
If a league has three police reports filed for events it hosts in the parks, the city will not issue further permits to that league, and any remaining permits for that league would be canceled.
The same goes for any reports found by police to be legitimate of alcohol being present at the parks or fields.
The fee proposal will be presented to the full City Council at its Monday meeting. There was a concern expressed by Councilwoman Marion Porterfield that it might not be legal to charge residents for police response to any games or events.
“I think we need to make sure it’s something we can really do,” Porterfield said. “If I call police to my house, I don’t think the city can necessarily charge for that.”
Polimeni said he discussed the issue with Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico, who said it was something the city could do.