Friday, January 28, 2011

Park Fees

Today the Washington Post had an article in the Fairfax Local Living section called "Park fees may increase." This was written by Kali Schumitz who writes for the Fairfax County Times.

This story was about proposed fee increases that the Fairfax County Park Authority is considering for Rec Centers, golf, weddings, and a range of other areas.

The Fairfax County Park Authority is not the only agency with parks in Fairfax County. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority owns and operated numerous large parks in Fairfax County as well as Arlington, and Loudoun Counties and the Cities of Fairfax, Falls Church and Alexandria. There are also State and National parks in Fairfax County, each with a different mission and focus.

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority was established over fifty years ago primarily to preserve large natural areas along the major rivers of our area. As a result, NVRPA today owns over 14 miles of Potomac River front and over 25 miles of river front along the Bull Run and Occoquan Rivers (and Mason Neck). NVRPA is not so much focused on local recreation as it is having destination parks with unique features.

In December of 2010 NVRPA adopted its fee schedule for 2011. Some of the notable features of this fee structure are as follows:

  • Golf - Our daily greens fees remain unchanged for the third year in a row. Golf usage is down nationwide, and has been for several years. With a desire to bring more players into the game we looked for creative ways to offer a higher value for many of our customers these include:
    • A new Heron Club membership that goes for $195 a year and provides three free rounds of golf along with free range privileges, and daily play discounts. This is an outstanding value designed to build more club loyalty to NVRPA's three great courses (Pohick Bay, Brambleton, & Algonkian).
    • A new Round Card that offers 10%, 15%, and 20% discounts for those that buy golf rounds ahead of time in bulk.
    • A new program for Twilight Pricing. This offers bargain basement pricing for those that want to tee off 3 hours or less before sunset. This is a great offer for those that want to get in a little golf after work.
    • A new Senior Gold Membership that offers the ability for seniors to play unlimited golf 7 days a week.
    • The only increase was for the standard Senior Membership that offers five day a week unlimited play. For this membership we increased the price less than 10% based on the statistics of very high rates of play in this category.
  • Four of our five Waterparks saw not fee change. The one that did was Great Waves with a modest $.25 - .50 increase to offset some new features offered.
  • An all new climbing play feature that will be open this spring at Great Waves at Cameron Run, will be available even when the pool/waterpark is closed. There will be a daily fee of $3.95 -$4.95 for children 2 - 12 to play on this 30 foot feature.
  • Miniature Golf rates will be unchanged at most of our mini-golf, but we will be reducing our rate at Algonkian to encourage greater play.
  • Kayak & Canoe rentals at Pohick Bay and Fountainhead will go up $1 per hour, or $4 per day. This fee has been flat for years and we have seen a huge spike in demand for these rentals. The increased fee will help us expand our fleet. Pohick Bay will also become the first site in the greater Washington DC region to offer stand on top paddle board rentals this summer. These will rent for the same price as a kayak.
    Kayak Rentals at Fountainhead Regional Park
  • Camping at Bull Run and Pohick Bay Parks has seen significant increases in popularity over the last several years with improved facilities. The price for a campsite will go up a modest $1 per night.
  • Wedding Venues like the Atrium at Meadowlark Gardens, and  the Meeting Center at Alongkian are staying unchanged in their fee structure.
Most of the changes in the fee structure for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority are designed to increase the value that our customers are getting and encourage higher levels of participation. Parks remain one of the best values for people to do a wide range of activities. And the more people use their parks the more they value them.

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