Outsiders may face fees for park use

NASHUA – Games won’t come cheaply for out-of-towners wanting to play in city parks if Ward 4 Alderman Marc Plamondon has his way.

The alderman wants to charge users of the city’s athletic fields or other park facilities $500 a day if they are not from Nashua. There is no fee now.

As it’s written, the legislation would also charge tax-exempt organizations, such as private schools and human service organizations, to use the fields. Plamondon said he intends to amend that provision, to ensure the fees only fall on people, businesses and organizations from outside the city.

Administrators in the Parks and Recreation Department are not embracing the idea, saying it would create problems.

Plamondon said out-of-town corporations organize outings at the expense of city taxpayers, who pay for workers to clean and keep up the facilities.

Visitors don’t take responsibility for keeping the areas free of litter, he said, recalling how he spoke with city workers as they cleaned up trash from the woods in Greeley Park following an event.

The legislation has to be reviewed by five City Hall committees, along with the Board of Public Works, before it could take effect.

Plamondon said the intent is to help the parks, especially considering the city budget’s limited funds. The policy would help to keep city facilities in shape, by reserving the money for necessary supplies such as seed and fertilizer, he said.

The department’s budget is around $2.5 million, down by less than 1 percent from the year before.

But the idea is running into opposition from the department it is supposed to help.

June Caron, a supervisor with the Parks and Recreation Department, said she thinks Plamondon’s proposal would be more trouble than it is worth and would be hard to administer.Caron said the current system works fine, with no fees for anyone, city resident or not.

Organizers pay a fee for large athletic events on certain rare occasions. For instance, the sports teams playing at Stellos Stadium pay $300 a day during interscholastic tournaments, she said.

No Nashua residents have been bumped from using a park because of out-of-towners, Caron said. “We’ve never had any problems,” she added.

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee also opposes the idea.

John Parolin, chairman of the committee, said there are practical reasons it won’t work, such as enforcement.

Parolin said that if the ordinance is adopted, park employees might be forced to ask people using the fields whether they live here. He said the committee did not like the burden that would be put on non-taxpaying groups that would have to pay to use the facilities.

Alderman-at-Large Jim Tollner, chairman of the Personnel/Administrative Affairs Committee, said aldermen would need to revise the legislation if it were to have any chance of passing.

Some private schools are concerned they would be hit with the fee, he said. But a company outside the city, with city residents as employees, also would have to pay, he said.

Some issues are out of the city’s control, Tollner added.

The donation of land to the city for Greeley Park requires it be open to anyone, and similar restrictions apply to Mine Falls Park, he said.