The city of Roswell is reintroducing a fee and rental plan for some of its recreational facilities for consideration by elected officials.
The tied 2-2 vote Wednesday afternoon by the Roswell City Council General Services Committee was just the most recent example of the difficult path to success facing most plans that aim to charge the public for use of city venues and attractions.
In the past year, resolutions have been defeated, delayed or unimplemented after local residents expressed strong opposition at public meetings. On Sept. 10, Roswell city councilors gave an admission fee plan for the Roswell Museum and Art Center one vote fewer than needed to pass.
On Wednesday, Councilors Jeanine Best and Barry Foster approved the resolution for new recreation division fees, while Councilors Angela Moore and Juan Oropesa opposed it.
With a 2-2 vote, the fee plan is scheduled to be heard by the entire City Council at its Oct. 8 meeting without a committee recommendation.
Support Local Journalism
Subscribe to the Roswell Daily Record today.
Support Local Journalism
Recreation Manager Marcus Gallegos told the committee that he and his staff have streamlined and updated fees that previously had been approved in 2018 and 2019.
He said the recreation division is working toward the goal of earning revenues equal to about 50% of its operating costs each year.
“I am trying to pull it all together and make sure that we can make it real clean for our departments so we know what we are making on each side and what revenues go where and such,” Gallegos said.
Although the City Council had approved fees in prior years, some were never implemented. Also, fees for the use of ball fields and areas within parks that were approved before are not part of the current plan, which covers only the Roswell Recreation and Aquatic Center on West College Boulevard and the Roswell Adult Center on North Missouri Avenue, as well as some fitness classes, sports lessons and sports activities organized by the city.
Gallegos said the fees and rental rates now being suggested are about the same dollar amounts as before, with some rates lowered. The city also is proposing to offer three free days during June, July and August at the Recreation and Aquatic Center for people holding identification showing that they live in Roswell.
Daily, monthly, quarterly and annual entry fees to the Recreation and Aquatic Center have been created, with different fee categories for adults, children, seniors, military personnel or veterans, and spectators.
Rental rates for entire facilities, individual rooms, sports courts, pools and swimming lanes also have been suggested. Youth sporting activities would start at $40, with the rate reduced for additional family members. Adult rates would be for teams and would depend on the type of activity.
A significant change regarding the Roswell Adult Center is the dropping of any required entry fees or fee-based memberships.
In August 2019, the city had notified Roswell Adult Center users that it was going to start implementing entry fees approved in July 2018. But the city put the fees on hold after public outcry.
The current proposal is to charge people only if they play billiards, use the cardio room or rent a room for $25 to $50 an hour. The hospitality room at the Adult Center could be used free of charge.
The head of the Roswell Adult Center Foundation, Carolyn Mitchell, says that a citizen steering committee met with city officials last fall, reaching consensus about dropping fee-based access or entry.
She also said groups that use the Roswell Adult Center regularly — such as the Pecos Valley Quilters, folklorico dancers and the photography club — will be able to negotiate rental rates.
“That was an area of big concern, that those established groups would continue to be able to use the rooms,” she said. “Those rates are negotiable for the existing groups.”
Gallegos explained that the annual rates to be charged regular users will vary depending on the group’s functions, membership and compliance with rules.
“That allows us to negotiate a rate every year, based on the group, how they use the room and what they do for the community,” he said. “If I charged them the normal rates, they won’t be able to afford it, and we already have encountered that.”
Moore suggested that a separate policy document be developed that would indicate how those rates are determined so that people will understand the process and so that rates would not be determined arbitrarily.
Best suggested allowing people who hold annual memberships at the Recreation and Aquatic Center to take CPR classes for free, although the American Red Cross does charge for CPR certification. Gallegos indicated that he could make that change.
The full list of suggested fees is included with the General Services Committee agenda packet on the city’s website, www.roswell-nm.gov.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at email@example.com.