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SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Letís see Point Mallard in people, not profits

Let's stop picking on Point Mallard Park and accept that it costs money to operate public parks and they do not make profits.

Public parks are financed with tax dollars and are for the public's use. Parks with high user fees drive away customers, and those leased to private concerns are no longer public.

The public needs to know how this year went at Point Mallard Park as the City Council and mayor get ready for yet another debate about the park's future.

Consider this:

  • With half prices on Tuesday and the new water attraction, the aquatic center lured 105,244 patrons this summer;
  • Over at the relatively new ice-skating complex, 13,558 skaters showed up for public sessions and parties. Nearly 8,000 people played hockey there, too;
  • Campers showed up, too, as some 22,296 of them enjoyed the campgrounds;
  • Thousands of batters and golfers used The Strike Zone;
  • The golf course drew 20,633 golfers to the new greens;
  • Twenty-nine marriages took place at the prayer chapel, with hundreds of guests;

    And don't forget the estimated 65,000 who came for the Alabama Jubilee, those who came for Spirit of America events, the September Skirmish and all of the others who came for family outings and other activities.

    Spending the $323,000 the city conditionally appropriated for the park for the past fiscal year seems reasonable, considering that some quarter-million or more people used Point Mallard facilities.

    Mayor Don Kyle mentioned the possibility of professional management for the park. That suggests higher participation fees, which, if they were high enough, wouldn't be much different from taking it private, which he says he doesn't support.

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