BAY POINT -- The Ambrose Recreation & Park District, which provides space for local groups to hold activities, has tightened requirements for waiving rental fees for its community center and other facilities.
Before the change, groups would make pitches directly to the district's board members. Now they are made to the staff.
To qualify for waiving of rental fees, the event has to be put on by a government agency, nonprofit or charity. The event also has to meet a community need and be co-sponsored by the park district. The change was approved in August by board members of the district, which oversees the community center on Willow Pass Road and parks in unincorporated Bay Point along with the 12-acre Ambrose Park in Pittsburg.
"I think it was time to be more clear and it seems like it was more appropriate for things to go through staff," said board member Judy Dawson.
A staff report recommending the new policy for waiving fees noted that at a July board meeting someone said: "The word on the street is if you want free facility usage go see the Ambrose Recreation & Park District Board."
The district waived community center rental fees over the last year for seven groups. That cost the district more than $3,100 in lost revenue said the report, which did not specify whether the were nonprofit or for-profit groups.
The new policy requires groups that obtain waivers to share revenues with the district if it's a fundraising event. Also, groups must reimburse the district if extra staff time is needed to support the event, a provision that concerns Mimi Stofer, chief administrative officer for the nonprofit Bay Point Chamber of Commerce.
"I'm hoping it doesn't deteriorate the relationship between Ambrose and lot of the nonprofits that can't afford the extra money from having to pay for (district staff) to be there," she said.
Rental fees to use district facilities by groups that don't qualify for a waiver will also go up under a separate policy approved by board members in September to bring rents more in line with other public rental facilities in East County. Higher fees to rent park areas and ball fields were also approved.
The district receives about $90,000 a year in rental fees, with most of the rentals booked by residents and government agencies.
The new policy simplifies things by having a residential rate, which applies to residents and business within district boundaries, and a nonresidential rate for all others. It also adds weekend rates.
Under the old rates, residents and government agencies paid $100 an hour to rent the Ambrose community center's multipurpose room on weekdays, nonprofits paid $75 and commercial groups paid $125. Now, the residential rate is $103 on weekdays and $118 on weekends while the nonresidential rate is $129 on weekdays and $148 on weekends. Contracts signed before the change will be honored.
"(Residents and businesses within the district) are already paying an assessment, a special tax to the district to help the district support overhead and maintenance," said interim general manager John De Lorenzo. "They should get a reduced rate."
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.