NEW GLOUCESTER — The Selectboard clarified its facilities and fields rental fee schedule at its April 23 meeting because there were “some things (that needed) to be cleaned up.”
The board unanimously approved rental fees for town facilities and fields in March, which would be supplemental income for the Parks and Recreation Department.
At the time, part-time Parks and Recreation Director Morgan Rocheleau said that rental fees are a “great resource” that would allow the department to fully make use of the facilities and fields.
But less than a month later, the board began reconsidering its decision and discussed delaying the fee implementation. The issue was discussed at the April 9 meeting and then postponed until April 23.
One problem, Chairman Steve Libby said, is the contradictions that are present in the various documents.
For example, the fee schedule doesn’t match with the application that groups can fill out to use spaces.
The library and the meetinghouse, Libby said, were included on the application as available spaces that groups could rent, “but the fee schedule didn’t have them as possible ones there would be a fee for.”
“That’s why I had asked to bring this up. Some things need to be cleaned up here,” he said.
Another issue, Libby said, is the fees themselves and how they are applied to different groups in town.
The pricing structure was intended to be divided into three groups. The least expensive was for Gray/New Gloucester-support organizations, which are “organizations that support our community specifically,” Rocheleau said. These would include youth associations, youth sports programs and similar activities, and the fee would be $10 an hour.
The middle group was for non-Gray/New Gloucester organizations or nonprofits, such as Central Maine Christian Academy, that also support the community, and the fee would be $25 an hour.
The third, and most expensive, group was for corporations or outside organizations who might charge an entry fee to their event themselves, and the fee would be $35 an hour.
Rocheleau said the fees are on the low end compared to other communities in order to be “respectful of our climate in our community.”
During public participation Tuesday, Penny Hilton spoke against the fees for certain spaces.
“I can easily see why having a fee for large groups or out of town groups would be a good idea because recreation fields need upkeep. I am not a fan of having any fees for use of the community building or library meeting space,” she said.
Steve Hathorne said he supported the fees as they were originally passed.
“I am in favor of the fees the way they were originally posted and voted on. I didn’t find any reason whatsoever to bring it back before the board. I’m not sure what the issue is behind this and why it’s come repeatedly before the board,” he said.
During the board meeting, Libby brought up private rentals, which were not originally in the policy.
The board agreed to allow private rentals on weekends at a rate of $35 an hour.
Rocheleau also suggested a limit on long-term rentals of two months so that groups cannot book out a space for eight or nine months in a row. Doing so, he said, limits the parks and recreation department in the programming that it can organize.
The board approved the limit, unless the event were otherwise approved by Rocheleau and town manager Carrie Castonguay.
The board also decided to leave the library off the fee list, given that its scheduling would need to be completed by library staff and that the building would have to be locked and unlocked for each use.
The board then unanimously voted to approve the revised fee schedule, effective April 23.
Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at email@example.com.