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Park Fee Proposal Dropped
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Rather than start charging $3 a car for admission to Jacob Myers Park on summer weekends, Riverbank City Council members decided to draw on its general fund reserve to hire another parks employee to help keep the park up to par.

The general fund currently has a 13 percent reserve or well over the 10 percent preferred, so the fund should be able to accommodate the $6,000 or so it will cost to pay another worker to help keep the bathrooms clean, enforce the no alcohol ordinance and perform other duties at the park.

Parks and Recreation Director Sue Fitzpatrick said Riverbank had converted Jacob Meyers Park from a popular gathering spot for drug users some 10 years ago to one of the finest family parks in the county but it had become so popular it needed more staff to keep it that way.

Some citizens previously had protested to the council against imposing an entrance fee. But it was not clear until Monday night's council meeting the proposed fee applied only on summer weekends and holidays from May through September. In addition any fees collected would be used to offset the cost of maintenance, crowd control and ordinance enforcement during the busy season, said Fitzpatrick.

The park on the north bank of the Stanislaus River is so popular it becomes very crowded on holiday weekends in summer. When the parking lot is full and staff closes the gates, visitors simply park alongside Santa Fe Road and walk into the park. But that too has created a dangerous traffic situation and drawn warnings from the police.

Citizens have argued Jacob Myers Park is one of the few places left for recreation that does not charge a fee and for that reason serves many local families of modest means.

The proposed fee at Jacob Myers Park was listed among the Parks and Recreation Department's new programs and fees for the spring and summer of 2009. It was the only fee increase the council did not approve.

Other costs approved include that of the Angel Island Trip, which will drop from $88 to $80 and the Black Oak Casino visit from $20 to $15, with the Start Smart Basketball for young children rising from $20 to $25.

Competition in the AM JAM skateboard competition planned for this year will cost $15 per event and $45 for the series. The first of four events in different cities is slated for Riverbank on April 18.

The VIPS 5K Run co-sponsored with a vision impaired persons support group is pegged at $30.

Among other new programs, The Tiny Tiger Karate Camp will cost $10, Extreme Outdoor Adventure camp $70, Color My World Art Camp $20, Fitness for Kids $25 per week, Flag Football Fridays $2 per person and Zumba dance class $30 per session.

Among cost increases for swimming, recreational swim and Saturday night splash will climb from $1.50 to $1.75 for youth and from $2 to $2.25 for adults. The family swim pass will increase from $70 to $100, the individual swim pass from $50 to $60, private swim lessons from $100 to $125, group swim lessons from $35 to $40 for residents (from $40 to $45 for non-residents), pool rental from $50 to $70 per hour and swim team from $100 to $110.

All other recreational programs retain the same fees as last year or continue without any fee. They are listed in the city's Activity Guide that will become available to the community on March 1.