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FEE INCREASES PROPOSED FOR PARKS, RECREATION

City lawmakers are expected to vote later this month on increasing some fees for the Parks and Recreation Department.

According to City Council President Michael Mistretta, the move could generate another $10,000 annually in revenue. Mistretta said the increases range from $25 to about $350. For example, he said, one day's use of Russell E. Diethrick Jr. Park for weekday activities would increase from $100 to $125; but for high school sectional baseball tournaments, the fee would increase by about $350.

Mistretta said at Monday night's work session that the fee schedule overall hasn't been addressed in at least five years.

"Some of the fees, in fact, have been in place, but they've never been actually implemented, and that's taken place over a 10-year period," he said. "Obviously the fee increases represent increased costs that the city has had to operate the various facilities."

If approved at the Council's Feb. 19 meeting, Mistretta indicated the new fees would take effect immediately.

On another matter, Council members are awaiting the findings of two studies before deciding on moving ahead with repairs to the Cherry Street Parking Ramp. One study is of the ramp's condition; the other is by the Gebbie Foundation on what kind of new parking facility would be needed on the west side once the new ice arena is built.

Public Works Committee Chairman James Ventura said even temporary repairs won't be cheap.

"We have to do something, because the joints are deteriorating. The slabs are deteriorating. It's in deplorable condition," he said.

The structure was built in 1994, and the city began having problems with deterioration almost immediately. Ventura said options include razing the current ramp and creating a parking lot, or rebuilding the ramp because extensive renovations would "be throwing good money after bad."

Panel member James McElrath noted there are about 100 parking spots not being used because some parts of the Cherry Street facility have deteriorated so much. But DPW Director Jeffrey Lehman emphasized that all areas currently open are safe.

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