Saturday, September 3, 2011

Triple Crown of losses

Groff Park pavilion: $150. Picnic table in foreground: free

After shanking Cherry Hill golf revenue projections by $46,463 and recreation/education programs by $76,014, Amherst's Leisure Services and Supplemental Education empire also flailed on pavilion rentals at Mill River and Groff Park, missing projections by $35,938.

Three years ago the recreation department started charging a $150 fee for using the formerly free park pavilions, and LSSE Director Linda Chalfant told the Select Board she was confident this new paradigm would generate $44,880 annually. This past year pavilion rentals totaled a paltry $8,862.

The main problem is people have a hard time paying (a lot) for something they used to get for free, and LSSE relies entirely on the honor method as no employee is charged with permit compliance checks.

Should people appear who do have a valid permit, you can simply move to any nearby picnic table, which is still free. Out of the six party groups I ran into over the summer using the Groff Park pavilion only one said they had taken out a permit and paid the fee.

Either the town needs to get as aggressive as they are with downtown parking enforcement, or return to the good old days--when some basic feel good services were free for the asking.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

pay to use a public park? fuck Amherst

Anonymous said...

I don't think we should charge for use of a pavilion!

I never felt that LSSE was a legitimate part of local government, however, I am glad that the department is there -- my kids enjoyed the summer camps. (And if they didn't enjoy them, I had no choice because I had to work.)

Let's face it: The Leisure Services is a loss leader and always has been. Let's not kill the simple pleasures with fees to try to keep it going.

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah what's next, charging for the swings and slides?

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why Linda Chalfant still is director of LSSE. She is off target on just about everything. And it ends up costing the town...Indoor pool during the summer to start...why in the world does the town manager give any weight to her opinions? Why don't we just have a parks and Rec department and completely privatize LSSE?

Harry shafter said...

they should charge to walk and sit on the newt and salamander sculptures, and send me the money. Amherst still owes me 7000.

Anonymous said...

If the government (at all levels) spent even equal thought on government efficiency as on creating revenue...

Where the hell does it all go?

Anonymous said...

Well, if you look at your basic town budget pie chart, a really big hunk goes to the schools.

(I'm not saying, 'Don't support the schools.')

Anonymous said...

You don't need to pay to use the pavilions. You need to pay to reserve the pavilions. If someone comes that reserved it, you have to move.

Anonymous said...

$75,000 in losses here, $35,000 in losses there, pretty soon they add up and you have a $1.1 million dollar surplus. It's about the bottom line.

Larry Kelley said...

And with an attitude like that the surpluses will quickly return to deficits.

Anonymous said...

Why not just let people use the pavilions for free, open War Memorial pool, reduce the fees for LSSE camps and programs so more families can use them,, kick in $30K for school clubs and eliminate athletic fees -- just like the old days. We can afford it and it helps the children and adults. This pennypinching doesn't work and we have a surplus. Town services are for town people, right?

Instead of services going directly to our kids and residents, we have a new tree warden, a sustainability coordinator, more school administrators...the list goes on. And still another million dollar surplus.

Ponzitown's favorite president said...

Hey Amherst:


"Barak Obama by a landslide"


All of America's millions who can't eat thank you.


Morons.

Anonymous said...

Clearly the demand for 'Bach's services has not improved.