The prices for non-Cheshire residents to commercially rent and use the fields at local parks may be going up this year, in an attempt to keep Cheshire competitive with the price structures of surrounding towns.
“Right now, Wallingford charges $200 for three hours of field usage at a time,” John Gawlak, director of the Cheshire Parks Department, explained. “Cheshire only charges $25 to $40 per hour, depending on if the field has lights or not, so you can see the discrepancy there.”
The idea for increasing the fees was first presented during the Cheshire Parks and Recreation Commission meeting on Dec. 4. No action has been taken as of yet and the idea is still in the initial phase of discussion, however, Gawlak believes that it would be wise for Cheshire to move forward with the price hike for non-residents, given the amount of usage the parks get yearly.
“Nothing has changed yet, and we’re just starting the budget process, but it would be a great way to bring revenue in to help fund other programs,” he said.
Since coming into the position last year, Gawlak has looked for ways to help Cheshire’s parks bring in more revenue.
“I am just trying to balance the market value with what Cheshire has to offer, and in this instance we are way below the market rates, (so) all we would be doing is bringing Cheshire up to speed with everyone else,” he said.
Gawlak mentioned that the funds potentially garnered from this price increase could help to fund facility improvements, youth programs, or adult education classes.
While Gawlak did not offer his opinion as to what would be an appropriate new price range, he promises that the rise will not impact residents who would like to use the field.
“This is for non-residents only, and this also doesn’t include pavilion rentals,” he noted. “Pavilion rentals will stay where they are, as of now.”
Currently, the cost to rent the pavilions at the four parks that have such structures is anywhere between $150 and $400, depending on which pavilion is being discussed and on what day it would be rented.
Town Councilor Peter Talbot, who serves as the Parks and Recreation liaison, explained how the pricing would work, if the increase were to be approved.
“The price would ultimately be set by the Council. It would have to be voted on by the Council and then we could go through discussing the implementation process,” he stated.
The next regular meeting of the Parks and Recreation Commission was scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m.