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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Council should revisit hike in Point Mallard fees

In the middle of January when the wind whips in off the Tennessee River to add chill factor to the temperature isn't the time most people think about going to Point Mallard.

But come spring, families will picnic and youngsters will trade clothes for bathing suits and head to the aquatic center and the wave pool.

Or will they?

The City Council, on a 3-2 vote Monday, approved a $2.50 hike in adult admission and $1.50 hike for children.

So, a family of two adults and two children will now pay $45 for that outing.

The idea is to make Point Mallard pay for itself through higher fees, instead of expanding its base to generate more customers. For a group that prides itself on business acumen, that's a surprising attempt to balance the budget.

They won't find Lynn Layton or Allen Sartain hiking the price of Chevrolets and Fords to make more profits. They, instead, will hear these dealers exhort their sales forces to sell more automobiles.

Given the assumption that attendance will stay about the same at the aquatic center, the revenue from admission increases and more rounds of golf is projected to bring the park to within $13,000 of breaking even.

The increases, however, will likely cause some people to come to the park less often. Conversely, the increases are not likely to lure new people to the wave pool.

Council President Billy Jackson voted against the increases along with Councilman Ronny Russell. Mr. Jackson suggested the council roll back prices as a way to encourage more people to visit the park, and as a public service.

His concept of Point Mallard lines up with the long-standing philosophy that municipal parks are not intended to be profit makers.

The surest way to create the aquatic center's demise is to run off its customers through price hikes and reduction in operating days.

Volume is the key to success at the park. Council members should consider ways to bring more people to Point Mallard Park rather than endorse the equivalent of circling the wagons.

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