Madison Township Administrator Susan Brobst asked trustees last month to consider establishing a fee schedule for renting the shelters at Brobst Park.
The park at 5321 Winchester Pike has front and rear shelter houses, as well as athletics fields and other amenities. The front shelter house has been available for no-cost reservations for several years, but the rear shelter house has always been considered a first-come, first-served facility.
Brobst told trustees at their Aug. 20 meeting that charging rental fees could help cover maintenance costs for the popular facilities and also might help prevent disputes over use of the rear shelter, which has become more of an issue as the park has increased in popularity.
"There's been a lot of requests for reservations at the second shelter house," Brobst said. "Currently, the front shelter house is reserved and booked up all summer long for every Saturday and Sunday and many weekdays.
"Once we tell people that the front shelter is booked, they have to get there in the early morning to hold the second shelter all day, and we've started having an issue with people arguing over who was there first."
The township has tried advertising to the public that leaving items unattended at the rear shelter house will not "hold the shelter," according to Brobst, and this is what has become a point of contention.
She said she has been investigating the fees charged in neighboring communities.
"We're currently gathering numbers from the past few years for weekend versus daily use, and if we recommend a fee, it will likely be a flat fee between $25 and $50," she said. "The money would be used like the fees from the community center rental, which helps replace chairs and upkeep. At the park, we know we need to replace some picnic tables and make repairs to playground equipment."
Renting the community center costs $20 for four hours for residents, and $40 for two hours for non-residents; Brobst said this brings in $6,000 to $7,000 annually for maintenance of the facility.
Reservations to use the front shelter house at Brobst Park next year will open after Jan. 1, so Brobst is asking that trustees decide in the next month or two if they are willing to make the suggested change to the reservation policy.
She said she would like to get more community input as well.
"We would welcome comments from the public to weigh in on this issue and then leave it up to the board to consider if they want to do this," Brobst said.
The next trustees' meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 17, at the community center, 4575 Madison Lane.