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No more ‘Buck a Car Night’ at county park

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

People of a certain age may recall “Buck a Car Night” at local drive-in movies. These specials usually occurred on a weeknight when the drive-in wasn’t all that busy. Vehicles would be crammed with as many cinematic patrons as possible because it just cost one dollar for everyone to see a movie. Once a suitable parking space was found most of the people scrambled out and perched on top or beside the vehicle and enjoy whatever third – or fourth – run movie was showing. Think “clown car” at a circus.
All in all, it served as pretty cheap entertainment for a summer night in rural West Virginia – or Texas.
Apparently a variation on the theme of a “Buck-a-Car-Night” had still been occurring at Medina Lake County Park – until Thursday, June 9, that is.
At that meeting, Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris asked the court to approve user fee increases at the park. With the lake filled to the brim, park visitors have exploded – especially over Memorial Day weekend.
“On May 29, we had 257 vehicles and on May 31, we had 231,” Harris told the court. “I finally had to lock the gate because we were at capacity.”
For that celebratory weekend, park entry fee was just $10 per vehicle, regardless of how many people were squeezed inside. “The fees were that way since before I was a commissioner and I’ve been here nine years,” Harris said. He noted that patrons “park somewhere else and pile into the back of a pickup and get in for just $10.”
To make things more equitable – and collect more money for park improvements – Harris asked that fees be increased to $5 per person with the $10 vehicle fee being scrapped.
Additionally, Harris recommended that boat ramp fees be increased from $5 to $10. He also suggested that annual out-of-county park pass fees be upped from $50 to $75. The pass would only cover the driver of a vehicle and not passengers, who would be charged the regular $5 fee.
An annual park pass for county residents would remain $35, with each passenger also being charged $5, Harris said.
“The $5 per person park entrance fee would not make an impact until there’s a third person in a car. At 200 cars, three people would be $3,000 and four would be $4,000,” he said, adding “That’s a lot of money.”
Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Wilkerson asked if Harris had checked with his competitors regarding pricing. According to Harris, one charges $35 per vehicle and another charges $15 for use of a boat ramp. “Besides, both of my ‘competitors’ are in other counties,” Harris said.
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the rate changes to Lake Medina County Park.
When asked when he wanted the new rates to go into effect, Harris replied, “Immediately.”
Harris also reported that, due to a nearly-at-capacity lake, “The county park is much smaller now,” with the formerly five-acre park currently reduced to just three acres. “The last couple of weeks I’ve lost 100 percent of the beach. I now have just a picnic area and the roads are being used for picnicking now,” Harris said.
At a later date, he anticipated reconfiguring the park’s hilly terrain to carve out more picnic areas.
Judge Richard Evans explained that the site used to be a state park, but was given to the county “years ago.” He also noted that a state mandate requires that the boat ramp remain open after hours for fishing.