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City venues ring in new fees in 2021

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Among the changes that Roswell residents will experience in 2021 are entrance fees at some popular venues and attractions.

The city amended many of its recreational facilities and parks fees in 2020, but it also introduced new fees effective Jan. 1 for the Roswell Museum and Art Center and the Spring River Zoo.

The museum plans to collect fees when it reopens from the holiday on Jan. 5.

The Spring River Zoo plans to announce its reopening and fee implementation plans soon. It has been closed since March to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions except for private parties and tours.

Roswell city councilors approved the new fee structures for city venues in the latter part of 2020 as part of a larger strategy to implement “cost recovery” plans for what are called “enhancement services” offered by the city. The idea is that recreational facilities, sports venues, the museum and the zoo improve quality of life but are not essential city services, so they should be expected to recoup some of their annual operating costs through fees, memberships, fundraising and other revenue-generating activities.

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Some city committees and City Council votes were against the fees at first, given the city’s long history of allowing free attendance and some opposition voiced by Roswell residents during public meetings. But the City Council approved the museum fees Oct. 8 by a vote of 6 to 4 and passed the zoo fees 6 to 3 on Dec. 10.

Caroline Brooks, executive director of the Roswell Museum and Art Center, said the city cannot subsidize amenities as it has in the past and that fees are one of the few ways that venues such as the museum can generate money. She added that rates were determined by looking at fees charged by other museums in the state.

“However, we also recognize that not everyone can afford additional expenses, especially with the state of the nation during COVID,” she said. “As such we are offering discounts and fee waivers for select groups.”

According to information on the museum’s website, museum members and children 15 and younger are always free. Seniors 60 or older are free every Wednesday, while Roswell residents can enter the museum free the second Saturday of each month. School groups with chaperones and reservations also are free.

For those required to pay for museum entry, the charge will be $10 for non-Roswell residents age 16 or older. Roswell residents over 16, students 16 or older, seniors 60 or older, and military members and veterans will pay $7.

Discounted admission is available for members of the North American Reciprocal Museum Association Program and to families with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits cards through the Museums for All program. Members of groups of 10 or more with reservations also could pay $8 a person.

The planetarium, which is closed now, has separate fees.

Brooks said that annual memberships, which start at $25 a year and include other benefits, could be a good option for many, and she added that the museum does not want fees to be a barrier for anyone.

“We will be monitoring attendance and responses from visitors throughout the coming months and that data will help inform whether fee adjustments will be needed in the future,” she said. “In all we do, we are in service to the public and we appreciate the public’s ongoing interest, support and feedback.”

When zoo fees will begin to be charged should be announced in the coming week, according to Zoo Curator Andrea Cole.

“The Spring River Zoo is currently making the final plans for its grand reopening, which will occur in mid-January,” she said. “Included in next week’s information will also be the plan regarding the new fees.”

The fees approved by the City Council were $5 for Roswell residents who are 16 or older and $2.50 for city residents 4 to 15. For non-residents, the fees are $10 for adults 16 or older and $3.50 for youth 4 to 15. People paying the discounted rate of $3 would be students 16 or older, seniors 60 or older, military members or veterans, and members of groups with 10 or more people. People with school-age groups with chaperones and reservations would pay $2.

Free entrance would be provided to children 3 or younger, members of the Friends of the Zoo organization and to all people on Spring River Zoo Day, or July 31. Roswell residents could enter for free on the first Saturday of every month, while seniors 60 or older could get in for free every Wednesday. In addition, the zoo curator has the authority to provide free admission in special circumstances.

Entrance to the park adjacent to the zoo is free at all times. The train and the carousel have separate ticket prices.

More information about museum and zoo fees — as well as amended fees for the city’s recreational facilities — is available on the city’s website, www.roswell-nm.gov.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.