From the golf course to the cemetery, Parks and Rec fees set to increase Feb. 1; a look at some of the bigger fee changes
photo by: Journal-World
Inflation soon will find your golf game — even if you are able to cut down on your three-putts.
The price of golf at the city-run Eagle Bend Golf Course will increase by about 20% next month, and that is just the beginning for all types of fee increases for Parks and Recreation activities in the city.
Swimming, youth baseball, adult kickball and, yes, even cemetery burials are set to increase on Feb. 1, as the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department hopes to help fill a budget gap that partially has been created by fewer Lawrence residents returning to popular recreational activities following the pandemic.
Parks and Recreation Director Derek Rogers said fees basically finished 2022 about equal to 2021 levels, which were historically depressed as the city was unable to host many classes, tournaments and other fee-producing events because of pandemic restrictions.
The results defied expectations and created some questions for Parks and Rec leaders.
“Have people changed the habits of what they do?” Rogers asked. “We did see more people out in the parks during the pandemic. Have people found new ways to stay healthy?”
Rogers said the department hasn’t come to any conclusions on that front, but “we would have thought coming out of COVID in the spring that we would have bounced back more than we did.”
One conclusion the department has reached is that fees have to increase. The new fees are projected to raise about $800,000. That still will leave a budget gap of $1.8 million to $2 million, a gap the department hopes to fill by more aggressively marketing its fee-producing programs and more corporate and community sponsorships.
Earlier this month, Rogers and his staff decided not to implement a proposed entrance fee at the city’s recreation centers, but the department decided to move forward with a plan to increase various other fees.
The fee increases don’t need approval from the Lawrence City Commission, but commissioners did hear some pushback at their meeting on Tuesday evening. Representatives from the city’s two private swim clubs expressed concerns about a pending 30% increase in the per-hour rental fees the clubs pay for pool time at the city’s Indoor Aquatic Center.
Commissioners heard the concerns, but did not take any action that would lessen the pending fee increases. On Wednesday, Parks and Rec officials began posting the new fee schedules that will take effect on Feb. 1. Here’s a look at some fee increases that are set to begin next month:
• Eagle Bend golf rates: 18 holes with a cart, Monday through Thursday, $44, up from $37; weekend 18-hole rates with a cart, $59, up from $49; Monday through Thursday 9-hole fees with no cart, $18, up from $15.
• Swimming fees: daily admission for children/teens/seniors, $6, up from $5; adult admission, $7, up from $6; swim lessons, Saturdays, $33, up from $28.
• Recreation programs: Prairie Park Nature Center summer camps, $190, up from $130; other summer camps, $130, up from $100; DCABA baseball for players 8 and under, $120, up from $110; adult kickball, $180, up from $165.
• Cemetery fees: $1,375 for a single grave space, up from $1,050.
• Facility rentals: full-court basketball court rental at recreation centers, $45 per hour, up from $35; half-court basketball court rental at recreation centers, $26 per hour, up from $20; full-court rental at Sports Pavilion Lawrence, $65 per hour, up from $50; full turf field rental at Sports Pavilion Lawrence, $150, up from $135; Union Pacific Depot event space, $90 per hour, up from $55; Carnegie Building for Saturday events, $1,400 per day, up from $995.
Rogers said a downturn in facility rentals, especially the sports courts at Sports Pavilion Lawrence at Rock Chalk Park, had contributed to lower-than-expected fee revenues in 2022. He said the 181,000-square-foot facility with eight full-size basketball courts or 16 volleyball courts had not hosted as many tournaments since the pandemic as expected. He said department leaders think a bounce back could be on the way, but he noted the pandemic was not the only challenge facing the nearly 8-year old facility.
“When we first built Sports Pavilion, we had the coolest, shiniest tool in the area,” Rogers said. “Now there are more facilities popping up. It became more of a buyer’s market for tournaments. They are hopping around to different cities.”
Department officials, though, said they are seeing some positive signs to start the year. Class enrollments since Jan. 1 are off to a stronger start than recent years, assistant director Lindsay Hart said.
“We are hoping that is a good sign of what’s to come,” she said.
To see the complete list of 2023 Parks and Recreation fees, go to the department’s website at lawrenceks.org/lprd/.