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Parks commission OKs recommending Lakeside Pavilion fee increases

marble falls lakeside pavilion

Lakeside Pavilion is located at 307 Buena Vista Drive in Lakeside Park along Lake Marble Falls. Staff photo by Connie Swinney

JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER

MARBLE FALLS —On Nov. 2, Marble Falls Parks and Recreation commissioners approved recommending a Lakeside Pavilion rental fee increase to the city council.

But that recommendation came with much discussion and the comparing of rental fees of similar venues across the Hill Country.

The fee for non-residents would be $1,500 to use Lakeside Pavilion from Sunday through Friday, while residents would pay $1,000. The Saturday fee would be $2,000 for both residents and non-residents because it’s the most popular rental day for the pavilion, which is located on Buena Vista Drive in Lakeside Park along Lake Marble Falls.

Nonprofits that use the facility Sunday through Thursday would pay $200 per day. Before the recommended change, the fee was $100.

If nonprofits want to reserve Friday, they must pay $1,500, and for Saturday, $2,000, because those are prime rental days, Parks and Recreation Director Robert Moss said.

The cleaning fee remains $350, which is a direct cost by the city’s cleaning service.

A facility deposit of $250 for events without alcohol and $500 with alcohol also remains unchanged. Renters will get the deposit back the following week if the facility is left in good condition as deemed by staff members.

Lakeside Pavilion recommended fees:

• $1,500 — Sunday-Friday per day for non-residents

• $1,000 — Sunday-Friday per day for residents

• $2,000 — Saturday; no resident discount

• $200 — Sunday-Thursday per day for nonprofits (currently $100); no discounts on Friday or Saturday rental

• $350 — cleaning fee added on top of rental (no change)

• $250 — facility deposit for non-alcoholic events; $500 facility deposit for events with alcohol; returned if staff deems facility left in good condition (no change)

Moss said 66 percent of the renters are nonresidents.

He passed out handouts comparing venues in Llano, Burnet, Lulling and Round Rock and noted they allowed alcohol and had kitchens.

Rental costs ranged from $750 to $2,000, depending on the day of the week.

Moss said he didn’t simply rely on his own research; staff members made it a point to ask customers why they were renting Lakeside Pavilion. Most noted the cost was more reasonable than what they were told in venues in Horseshoe Bay.

“As the director, I want to try to keep (Lakeside Pavilion) affordable,” he said. “We get a lot of customers who can’t afford Horseshoe Bay.”

Commissioner Steve Manley asked what Horseshoe Bay charges and was told it depends on a variety of things such as what the customer wants to eat, the day of the week of the event, the number of attendees, bar service and stages for music.

Moss told commissioners his concern is people will decide that, while Horseshoe Bay is more expensive than Lakeside Pavilion, it’s not considerably more. In addition, there’s no catering service with Lakeside Pavilion, Moss said, while going to Horseshoe Bay Resort means using its catering service.

“We don’t have other amenities to make that facility more expensive,” he said. “For those extra amenities, they might bite the bullet and go to Horseshoe Bay.”

The profit for the city is $475 each time the pavilion is used to help offset maintenance and operations. That equals about $9,000 a year.

“We won’t be increasing our net revenue,” Moss said. “It’ll be offsetting.”

Maintenance and operations requires $100 a day for upkeep of the facility and then an additional $100 in insurance, electricity and other improvements.

“This hasn’t done much for the city’s net revenue over time,” Moss said. “The venue is paid for now, but a year ago, it was not.”

Chairman David Rhodes noted fees that made sense when Lakeside Pavilion first opened might not anymore. One such rule that is no longer in effect is requiring those renting Lakeside Park to hire security if they wanted to serve alcohol. For each event that had alcohol, renters had to have two officers for parties of more than 99 people at a rate of $35 per officer per hour for six hours.

“Over time, deposits have changed, cleaning fees, alcohol and (paying off-duty) police have changed,” Rhodes said.

The venue opened in 2007 and has made more than $364,000 with its highest year in 2008 ($50,452) and its lowest year in 2012 ($30,450).

Staff members told commissioners that most of the Saturdays from now until 2017 have been reserved, so the new Saturday increase will not take effect for another year.

“I think the prices are way reasonable,” commissioner Kendra Lewis said of the proposed increases.

“If you’re booked for a year out, that means your prices are too low,” commissioner Charles Watkins said. “We should risk a few vacancies.”

“Our price is right in line with the comparables,” vice chairman Mark McCary said.

Officials plan to present the recommendations to the city council during a January meeting.

Commissioners also were told:

• council members had a hearing and first reading of the increase in rental fees for Johnson Park pavilions and the ballpark and Westside Park Community Hall. Moss told the commissioners that council members didn’t have much discussion about the increase and no citizen spoke up for or against the increases. The council conducted the second hearing Nov. 3.

• it’s time to begin preparations for Spring Break 2016. Moss said staff members will update letters sent to area schools and businesses. In addition, commissioners and staff members agree that having as many events at Westside Park as possible was ideal because of its location on Second Street. Most of the children who go to the park live nearby.

• the audio and video upgrades, inducing a new audio system and projector, are installed.

• to consider a trail leading to Marble Falls High School from RR 1431. Lewis said she ran along the area and realized there’s no trail to keep students who are walking to the campus safe. Moss said he would begin conversations with other staff members to see if it’s possible.

• by the family of deceased speed boat driver Mike Fry that they would appreciate a memorial honoring Fry at the landing near Lakeside Park. Fry died while competing at LakeFest in August.

• the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce board members and staff have asked for more security at Walkway of Lights, which opens Nov. 21 at Lakeside Park. An off-duty officer with a firearm will be there during the event.

• about a conversation McCary had with someone about a concern that incidents needing police officers are occurring. Moss said he has left a request with Marble Falls Police Chief Mark Whitacre requesting a summary of incidents. Rhodes asked that Whitacre talk to his officers to include their comments along with a summary.

jfierro@thepicayune.com