Jacob Myers Park in Riverbank, with its access to the Stanislaus River, walking trails and picnic and playground area, has had a parking fee of $5 in effect for the past three summers. The fee that started in 2011 during the months of May through September has provided some benefits, collected through the summer of 2013 and is assisting with expenses of the park maintenance.
Riverbank Director of Parks and Recreation, Sue Fitzpatrick, gave an update of the Jacob Myers Park Management Plan to city council members at a recent session.
The summary of the agenda item stated that Jacob Myers Park established the management plan in 2011 to “put services in place to accommodate the large number of visitors to the park during the months of May through September of each year” that would include a $5 parking fee on weekends during those busy months.
According to the document it also states that the management plan has been successful in all aspects. The park is kept safe, clean and operates smoothly, in part due to the funding provided.
“We just had large numbers of people visit the park on the weekends and we were having a hard time keeping up with the maintenance of the park,” said Fitzpatrick, pointing to the ‘wear and tear’ of the park due to high traffic volume. “So that’s why we developed the management plan.”
In a report presented by Fitzpatrick at the council meeting on Monday, Oct. 28, she stated that the parking fee covered all the expenses for the park like security, park aides, safe tree cuts and repairs through the summer of 2013.
This year part of the fees received from the parking fee was extended to the River Cove neighborhood group to cover security services for that area.
“They were experiencing a lot of people on the other side of the river and we found out pretty much that we were responsible for that beach area so we extended our services this summer starting in April and we sent security guards out there pretty much sporadically during the week and weekends and we also had park aides go there and clean up the garbage and the roads and curbside garbage,” said Fitzpatrick. “So we basically have been meeting with the neighborhood group on a monthly basis and they have told us that those services were beneficial this summer.”
The survey that was done between the months of May through September were performed by the park aide, security guard, or park host that manned the ticket booth at the park entrance and who asked people upon entrance where they were from. The survey results are projected by the information that was given and may not be exact due to busy days, distractions, or forgetting to ask the survey question.
As a result they found that 60 percent to 64 percent of park attendees on Sundays of each month are from other areas. This could be due to reservations for family reunions or other parties at the covered pavilion. On a regular basis 50 percent of visitors to the park are from other areas. A large number of visitors from the other areas were from Modesto rather than neighboring Oakdale or Escalon.
The revenue generated by the parking fee and the reservations were a total of $32,002.63. The expenses accrued were for the security guards, park aides, supplies, and safe tree cuts for a total of $30,185.62. This left a remaining balance of $1,817.01 which will be added to the Jacob Myers Park fund total including the 2012 remaining balance of $6,604.01.
An Arborist recommendation presented to the council is for several safe tree cuts that are ‘priority number one’ in the amount of $13,000 which are for trees along the trail that need to be removed or are becoming dangerous.
“We have a lot of expenses at the park and we are cutting it really close,” said Fitzpatrick.
As an opportunity for saving money at the park, Fitzpatrick recommended having a larger stipend for the front park host during the busy summer season.
She explained that they have no problem retaining a park host during the winter months but during the summer when the park is busy with kayakers, boaters, and rafters the front park host tends to move on. Without a front park host on hand the City then has to hire a park aide, which is much more expensive than having a park host.
Even with the stipend for the park host the cost will still be less than hiring park aides throughout the summer, she said.
After reviewing the survey and the financial results, Fitzpatrick stated that the plan has been successful and the community appears to be satisfied with the services and park maintenance.