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Ask NOW: Why do the schools have to rent Hart Park facilities?

Patrick Allen, a park maintenance worker, inspects the grooming machine he uses to help maintain Hart Park’s artificial stadium turf.

Patrick Allen, a park maintenance worker, inspects the grooming machine he uses to help maintain Hart Park’s artificial stadium turf.

April 8, 2014

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Why does the city charge local schools for the use of Hart Park facilities?

Issue:A reader wonders why schools have to pay a fee to use Hart Park's facilities, and why the city charges "so much."

Status: City officials said there is a rental fee charged for Hart Park facilities — including the stadium and concession stand along with baseball diamonds and tennis courts — used by local schools or other groups because the park budget is separate from the city budget.

Superintendent of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Ken Walbrant and his boss, Department of Public Works Director Bill Porter, said fees are charged to cover the costs of regular maintenance of the facilities as well as to develop a funding source for larger capital improvements. For example, the artificial stadium turf that is specially laid out for a variety sports is scheduled to be replaced within the next 10 years. They anticipate the cost to be between $750,000 and $1 million.

"The regular maintenance requires labor and equipment, so that factors into our costs and therefore the rental fees," Walbrant said.

Stadium rentals generate about $125,000 annually, he said.

Rental costs and potential revenue from concessions vary depending on many factors, said Mary Clare Schuller, who handles the rental contracts.

"It's a complicated formula based on who is renting, the specific facilities rented and the length of time of the rental," she said.

Submit your question by sending an email to news@cninow.com.

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