The Blaine City Council has voted to raise rental fees for picnic shelters at three parks. The charge will go up for all users, with a steeper hike for nonresidents. And nonprofits, long exempt from such fees, will now have to pay, too.
The rate changes went into effect at the beginning of the year, but parks staff members said they expect to get more feedback this spring once the snow melts and people start planning outdoor parties.
The council directed staff to study park rental fees in 2013 to make sure they cover expenses.
“We are just trying to cover more of our costs. We did a full-circle review of what other cities are doing,” said Blaine Parks and Recreation Program Supervisor Nate Monahan.
The biggest change is a switch from hourly rates that had ranged from $12-$15 an hour to half- or full-day rates that now range from $80 to $161. For nonresidents, half- and full-day fees range from $134 to $193.
“The feedback we got back from our council is nonresidents should be paying more, so we upped the difference.” Monahan said.
A steeper price for nonresidents is also in line with what neighboring cities are doing, he said.
Before the change, short two-hour bookings took up staff time and maintenance resources but didn’t cover costs.
“It cuts down on staff time,” Monahan said.
Blaine rents park shelters at Lakeshore Commons, Town Square and Aquatore parks. In 2013, the city had 157 park shelter bookings that brought in around $15,000. Shelters can accommodate 150 to 200 people, depending on the facility.
Individual picnic tables still are available at parks free of charge.
Half-day rentals are for five-hour slots running from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. or from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Full-day rentals run from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The new picnic shelter rental fees are:
• Lakeside Commons: $101.77 for half day and $160.69 for full day for Blaine residents; $133.91 for half day and $192.83 for full day for nonresidents;
• Town Square and Aquatore parks: $80.34 for half day and $139.26 for full day for Blaine residents; $112.48 for half day and $171.40 for full day for nonresidents. □