Cumberland council OKs user fees for Twin Brook, other rec fields

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CUMBERLAND — The Town Council on Monday unanimously approved a fee structure for major events at the town’s recreation fields.

The goal is to generate up to $20,000 a year in user fees.

The council, which also authorized Town Manager Bill Shane to sign a contract for a Tuttle Road paving and sidewalk project, is expected to vote June 4 on applying those fees to smaller rental events, too.

All the fees would go into effect April 1, 2013.

The fees are intended to shift the costs of maintaining the Twin Brook Recreation Area and fields in West Cumberland from local taxpayers to the users of those facilities. The fees would not apply to groups affiliated with Cumberland’s recreation program or School Administrative District 51.

“What we’ve tried to do is capture the costs that we have, associated with these fields, and structure it so that there isn’t (an) out-of-pocket cost to the taxpayer,” Shane said last week.

Major events at the fields include the lacrosse tournaments, a two-day Labor Day soccer tournament, and the Maine Principals’ Association Regional Cross Country Championships. Fees would include:

• Five hundred dollars to close a major part of a park.

• Two dollars per vehicle, minus 10 percent of the total count to account for repeat traffic.

• Sixty-five dollars to set up a field, if required.

• Special details from the police and fire/emergency medical service departments.

• A municipal employee day-of-event staffing expense.

• A $500 security deposit.

To help groups determine what their fee for each event would be, the town will track vehicle traffic during the 2012 season, for estimation purposes only.

A hearing on the fees Monday generated no public comment. The groups that will have to pay those fees are aware the town will be imposing them, Shane said Tuesday.

“We’ve tried to be fair, we’ve tried to assess fees that we feel recoup our costs of maintaining (the fields),” he said, adding that the town’s goal is to collect between $15,000 and $20,000 a year in revenues from the fees, enough to cover the town’s expenses related to those fields.

The fees would also help Cumberland recover revenues lost when it eliminated a parks fee for North Yarmouth residents. That fee was met with resistance in North Yarmouth and was dropped after one year; a survey showed that the majority of field users were not from Cumberland or North Yarmouth.

While there have already been fees, Shane said, “it’s been kind of hit-or-miss. We haven’t had a formal fee structure that was codified in the ordinances. We’ve done our best to collect fees for what our costs were.”

The Town Council on Monday also unanimously authorized Shane to execute a contract with the A.H. Grover Co. for the road paving and sidewalk project on Tuttle Road. The sidewalk will run from Town Hall to Cumberland Commons; Tuttle Road from Main Street to the Greely Middle School entrance will be paved.

The Maine Department of Transportation is funding about 80 percent of the approximately $450,000 project, and the town is paying the rest. The work should run from mid-May to mid-August.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.