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City Council postpones decision on Grandview Park ball field fees

Monday night, the Hudson City Council postponed a decision on Grandview Park ball field fees for 2013 until a future meeting.

Public Works and Parks Director Tom Zeuli was asked, in the meantime, to pin down the per-game cost of operating a field.

The city's Park Board has recommended no increase in diamond fees for this year.

The current fee for day games is $15.

The Hudson Softball Association and the school district are charged $30 per field for night games, plus $45 per game for lighting and $25 per field for field preparation.

The Hudson Boosters are charged $20 per game for their youth softball and baseball programs.

All-day tournament fees are $95 per field for city residents and $100 per field for non-residents.

Alderperson Mary Yacoub asked why the Park Board hadn't recommended increasing fees in light of information provided earlier that field usage fees came $23,000 short of meeting Grandview Park operational costs.

Zeuli said the Park Board was influenced by a presentation from Bill Kotz of the softball association showing that the city's fees are higher than those charged by surrounding communities.

Zeuli also reported that the electric bill for Grandview Park includes parking lot, security, building and football field lighting. He nevertheless estimated the per game cost of lighting a field at $43, which he said is covered by the lighting fee.

Other costs of operating Grandview Park also aren't separated out, Zeuli said.

When asked what those costs are, he mentioned grass mowing, portable toilets and ball field irrigation.

Zeuli said he would look into the possibility of metering the electricity for each field, and requiring users to pay for it as they go through a token system.

He said the softball association has volunteered to do its own field preparation. He disapproved of volunteers using the city's equipment, and said the association would have to have its own mowers and drags.

Alderperson Kurt TeWinkel, the council's representative on the Park Board, noted that the softball association also protested being singled out for fee increases, since none were proposed for the Boosters or school district.

Council President Rich Vanselow asked why users of Grandview Park should have to pay for its operation when the same isn't true for people who use Lakefront or Prospect parks.

"If a park is a park, we should treat them all alike," Vanselow said. "I don't see this as any different than any other park. It is a service to the community."

Mayor Alan Burchill said the difference is that anyone can use Lakefront and Prospect parks, but not everyone plays softball.

"My problem is just the gap in the numbers (between fees and expenses)," Yacoub said.

"So you want to increase the user fees?" Alderperson Randy Morrissette II asked later in the discussion.

"I don't know," Yacoub replied. "If there are ways that they are willing to help, we should consider it."

The reference was to the softball association's offer to do field preparation work.

A revenue summary provided by the city shows the Hudson Softball Association paying $13,070 of the $19,499 collected in field usage fees in 2012.

The totals for other groups are: Hudson Church Softball, $2,200; Hudson Fall Softball, $1,800; Hudson Boosters, $1,545; Hudson Baseball, $430; Hudson School District, $364; and Danes Softball, $90.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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