The Galveston City Council should approve a staff recommendation to begin charging a $25 annual user fee for some adults using McGuire-Dent Recreation Center.
The fee at McGuire-Dent, 2222 28th St., is among several proposals city parks and recreation staff members plan to present to the council in effort to raise revenue to maintain facilities and provide programs for residents.
Other proposals include raising rental rates for the Menard Park band shell and increasing baseball field rental fees for people and groups wanting to hold tournaments.
There may be some room for doubt and deliberation in those proposals, although none is apparent, but imposing a $25 annual fee for adults to use McGuire-Dent is reasonable and necessary.
The staff members proposing the fee described a situation at city parks that Galveston residents will find familiar.
“We’re a little behind on all our maintenance to the parks, so we’ve got quite a bit of catching up to do,” Mario Rabago, director of Parks and Recreation, told a Daily News reporter this week.
That has too often been the case with a lot in Galveston — maintenance deferred for lack of ready money until “a bit of catching up” becomes a huge expense the city can’t cover without extraordinary effort.
McGuire-Dent Recreation Center is a good facility and is popular among residents. About 1,400 youngsters and 5,000 adults visit it every month, according to a city report.
If charging a modest fee will allow the city to keep the place maintained and add new programs, it’s a no-brainer.
And the proposed $25 a year is a modest fee if there ever was one.
Most of the people who go to McGuire-Dent do so to use the exercise equipment, according to the city. Getting access to that sort of equipment for a little more than $2 a month is a steal.
The staff has proposed exempting people younger than 18, older than 64, and military veterans from paying the $25 fee at all. People who aren’t residents could buy an annual membership for $60, which is $5 a month and a price that anybody who has ever paid a private gym membership will recognize as a sweet deal.
The proposal also recommends allowing people to buy $5 day passes.
Nearby cities charge more, in most cases much more, than the city of Galveston is proposing.
Pearland, for example, charges youth and adults $330 a year, according to a comparison Galveston’s park staff compiled. Texas City charges $75 a year for youth memberships, $125 for adults and $60 for seniors, according to the comparison. League City charges adults other than seniors $95.
The council might consider two things before it approves this proposal. One is whether $25 is too little and the other is whether the city should offer a family membership rate, as many other cities do.
• Michael A. Smith