The city of Dunwoody is looking to reassess agreements it has with organizations that provide its parks and recreation services.
Like many other aspects of city government, the Parks and Recreation Department relies heavily on public-private partnerships for programming.
There are six major nonprofits that the city works with, including the Dunwoody Nature Center, the Spruill Center for the Arts and Dunwoody Seniors Baseball.
The Dunwoody Preservation Trust is hoping to join the ranks by operating the city-owned Donaldson-Bannister Farm on Chamblee Dunwoody Road.
Parks and Recreation Director Brent Walker said while considering a service delivery agreement with the Dunwoody Preservation Trust, he decided it was time for the city to take a look at the agreements with all of the service providers, most of which were drafted before Dunwoody became a city.
Walker said all of the organizations give the city some money, but the structure of the agreements vary. Some organizations pay the city rent for the use of their facilities, but the city picks up the cost of their utilities. Other groups cover their operating costs but do not pay the city rent.
“For the most part, all the organizations were happy with their current arrangements,” Walker said.
At a Sept. 10 meeting, some city council members said it would be a good idea to try to move toward a more standard agreement.
“The idea was to come up with something that allows us to support them in a fair way,” said Mayor Mike Davis. “Every organization has got a different deal. It has to at least be fair.”
But Councilwoman Lynn Deutsch said because of the variety of organizations, it would be difficult to spend the same amount of money on all of them.
Councilman Denis Shortal said it’s important to remember that the organizations benefit the city.
“All of these organizations provide a service and enhancement to our community and all of our citizens,” Shortal said. “This is a very, very positive element to our city. Without them, we don’t have it.”
Walker also spoke to the council about raising the city’s park rental fees. He said Dunwoody inherited its fee structure for park rentals from DeKalb County. The city is currently charging $100 per day to rent park facilities, he said.
“It’s always been on the low side, especially when it comes to special events,” Walker said. “They’re a lot more staff-intensive.”
Walker suggested raising the cost to $400 per day for large events.
Deutsch said she felt that number may be too low still.
“It’s important to consider what is a reasonable rate when the park is essentially shut down,” she said.
But Councilman Doug Thompson said the rates need to remain affordable.
“Parks aren’t profit centers. They’re a service for our community,” he said.