MOUNT PLEASANT — It soon could cost you up to 10 times more to book a party or other event at the popular Memorial Waterfront Park.
Town staffers say the increases are needed because the demand for park events is straining the staff and cutting into public time to go there and relax.
Their plan: Jack up the prices and drastically cut the number of large groups using the park.
“The enjoyment of the park is being put at risk,” said Town Administrator Eric DeMoura.
The current special event permit fee ranges from $50 to $100. The new fees would be $200 for groups between 25 and 249 people, $400 for groups of 250 to 499 and $1,000 for groups of 500 to 2,000.
“Our park has been inundated with requests for fundraisers, runs and festivals,” said Ashley Richardson, community development and tourism officer.
Town Council’s Economic Development Committee gave preliminary approval Monday to increasing the fees. The committee also endorsed a proposal to designate one Saturday per month for general public use of the park green space.
Richardson presented to the committee what was described as the first formal policy for use of the 3-year-old park at the base of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. Currently, the park is managed under the special event permit fee that applies to the whole town.
“A formal policy will allow qualified groups to use our park with reasonable restrictions,” Richardson said in a memo to DeMoura.
The new rules would apply to the open, grassy area of the park. The Cooper River Room and Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Pavilion operate under separate fee schedules for booking.
The policy will save time and money because staff hours spent reviewing applications and giving on-site tours will be reduced. Fewer events are expected to happen at the park under the new fee schedule, which will reduce park maintenance costs, she said.
Under the new policy, the town would have the right to increase fees or require security deposits on a case-by-case basis. And no alcohol would be allowed on the park grounds unless an exception to the rule is granted in writing by the town.
The three-member committee recommended approval of the new park rules at the next Town Council meeting Oct. 9.
This year, the town is on track for 38 events to be held at the park, Richardson said.