Northfield is considering charging a user fee for adult sports teams to play on its fields — although the idea is getting some pushback.
Council President Lisa Brown brought the idea up for discussion at Tuesday’s work session, suggesting an upfront, per-use fee of $35 for outside organizations and leagues.
“We are looking at all avenues of revenue,” Brown said Wednesday. “We have to be fair to citizens, we have to be fair to businesses. We want to make sure that before we change anything, we have an open discussion.”
Former Councilman Brian Smith, who is involved in such a league, called the idea “ridiculous” during the public session.
“It’s a fee, a tax on people,” Smith said. “A lot of guys I play with are Northfield residents who pay property taxes. ... You’ll drive people away.”
Smith added that if teams are paying a fee, they will expect first-class upkeep.
“You talk about maintenance on fields. I’ve went out there and mowed the grass myself,” Smith said. “If you charge me $35, you’d better be damned sure the (diamond) is lined and the grass mowed.”
Councilman Jim Travagline added that if games are “played by residents on our fields, they absolutely shouldn’t have to pay.”
Brown added that many teams might include only a few Northfield residents, leading Travagline to suggest setting a percentage.
Mayor Vince Mazzeo said Wednesday that $35 a game “is a little bit too extreme. Maybe if you charged one fee for the whole season, perhaps.”
Mazzeo added that a user fee “could open the city up to more and more organizations who want to use the fields. Then you open it up to everybody. That’s part of what has to be worked out if we decide to go that route. ... I understand the intent. I don’t know if it’s doable.”
Brown said Wednesday she is “not opposed to it. I’m not for it. I just brought it to our attention. I want to see what other towns do. ... It’s in the infancy stage right now.”
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