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Williamsville park rental fees going up to help pay rising costs

Mike Desmond
Island Park is one in need of repair.

Williamsville trustees voted Monday night to raise many of the charges for village park rentals, while admitting the parks aren't what they should be, but higher rates will pay for work.

With new mayor Deb Rogers taking the helm, the board spent four hours working through the issues and administrative process of reorganizing government for the new year. She appointed John Murphy to fill the trustee vacancy when she moved up to mayor.

As her first big initiative, the new mayor pushed for an array of higher rental charges and changes, saying the parks need work and the current budget just doesn't have the cash for new maintenance equipment and other changes.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Deb Rogers (3rd from left) takes the mayor's helm in Williamsville.

"We're dealing a budget that has given us constraints on neglected equipment that is going to need a complete overhaul, much of it," Rogers said. "So if we can help to raise the funds to make that equipment better and what I expect to see when you go to a Village of Williamsville park, then I'm all for it."

Trustee Al Yates said the decision was to get park users to help pay for improvements.

"We do have good parks and we are trying to make our parks even better, because certain parts or aspects of them are tired, Yates said. "So my thought was the people who want to rent it, basically, have them help us make it even better."

Trustee Matthew Etu said it is a mix of budget issues and rising costs.

"It has a lot to do with the fact that it costs significantly more to maintain these facilities than it used to and everything costs more these days," Etu said, "but more importantly, we, as trustee Yates mentioned, are endeavoring to make our small parks premier parks in the area and they need a lot of attention and a lot of attention means a lot of money."

Parks in the village are a key attraction to residents and they vary in condition. The most visible is Island Park, located right behind the Village Hall and the Amherst town building.

While the rates took effect with the vote, they aren't going to be completely visible for a few days, until the village website can be updated to show the mostly higher charges.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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