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2012-05-10

Revised park rules to ensure peaceful & profitable season

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

New rules, regs and recommendations covering Bandera City Park discussed during a special meeting-workshop on Tuesday, April 24, were approved during a Thursday, May 3, meeting of city council. According to City Administrator Mike Cardenas, other potential changes will be brought before council during future meetings.
Council approved renting the two covered pavilions for $65 for eight hours, which doesn't include the $5 park entrance fee. Pavilion renters can have an unlimited number of guests and will have an option of purchasing wristlets for each guest.
During the workshop, Councilman Brandi Morgan's suggestion that 50 free admissions accompany the $65 pavilion rental fee found little support. As Cardenas pointed out, "If we let 40 people in for free, the city is losing $200 revenue on each pavilion rental. We're $135 in the hole. It doesn't make sense to lose money."
He pointed out that the pavilions take a lot of cleanup and maintenance. It was estimated that that five groups had rented the pavilion in the last month.
City property owner Trina Word noted that in state parks, "You rent a private space and still pay admission to the park."
Who pays what?
Also, council approved waiving the park entrance fee for disabled veterans, as well as for active duty and retired military personnel, who present a valid military identification.
Although military discounts were discussed at the workshop, Councilman Nancy Montgomery said, "Wounded warriors should be free."
Free admission would not be extended to everyone in a vehicle, however. During the workshop, Councilman Binky Archer put the kibosh on that suggestion.
Although a veteran himself, even Mayor Horst Pallaske had balked at free park access for military personnel, saying, "Veterans usually get a discount, but we never get in anywhere free." Seemingly never meeting a discount she didn't like, Councilman Brandi Morgan lobbied hard for free access for students of Bandera ISD who have a valid ID.
During the workshop, park attendant Joe Frazier estimated that on weekends, 20 to 25 students enter the park on foot and another 25 to 30 arrive in vehicles. Walk-ins are not charged an admittance fee.
"If we're looking at 50 kids on a weekend for two days, that's $250 and at 43 weeks, that comes to $10,750 we'd lose a season if we didn't charge students anything," Cardenas said.
Schumacher also said that another problem is city teens vs. county teens vs. San Antonio teens. "Out-of-county students don't need a discount," she said. And, under the new park rules, they won't get one.
Deputy Marshal Earl Heidelberg said that most of the teens coming to City Park on weekends are from San Antonio, Hondo and Kerrville. He also identified jumping the fence as the most prevalent problem, adding, "It's hard to enforce."
Gaps okay
As Cardenas noted, as per a city ordinance, people can park outside the park and walk in at no charge through the front gate. People can also legally enter the park through gaps in the fence surrounding the area. "If they're not parking illegally, they can enter the park by a gap in the fence," Cardenas said.
The only saving grace, said Councilman John Hegemier, is that people usually "have a lot of stuff when they come to the river and they don't want to carry it."
Council also felt it unnecessary to offer admission discounts to large groups of people using the park. Earlier, council had failed to approve a discount for a group of visitors from San Antonio's Cornerstone Church.
When Morgan queried about "large groups of students," it was recommended that the students come before council for a case-by-case approval.