Dunwoody’s mayor and City Council have hiked rental fees for city parks and are capping attendance and private events at them to limit wear-and-tear and bring rates in line with neighboring cities.
The new policy was approved at the May 21 council meeting.
New rental fees are:
- Extra large groups renting a venue such as Brook Run Park
pavilion or Great Lawn for up to 300 people: $500 for four hours, $1,000 for eight hours.
- Large groups using a facility such the Pernoshal Park pavilion for up to 100 people: $150 for four hours, $300 for eight hours.
- A medium group at the Brook Run Arboretum rental pavilion for up to 75 people: $75 for four hours, $150 for eight hours.
Due to the city’s low fees, parks are a popular location for fundraiser runs and non-city festivals throughout the year, often to the detriment of the general park user, explained Parks and Recreation Director Brent Walker in a memo to council.
To stem the number of events and recuperate the costs associated with maintaining city parks, the city implemented new festival and special event fees and attendance caps:
- Small festival with a maximum of 400 people will pay $2,200, with up to $900 in refundable deposits.
- A medium festival with a maximum crowd between 400 and 800 people will pay $3,025, with $1,100 in available refunds.
- A large festival with 800 to 1,200 people will pay $3,850, with $1,300 in refundable deposits.
- For all 5K walks and runs, there is now a cap of 500 participants. Cost to put on one at a Dunwoody park is now $3,525, with $1,100 available for refunds.
The city is also implementing a policy to limit non-city-organized large events to only one every 30 days.
The issue of raising fees was first raised at the City Council’s February retreat. Assistant City Manager Jessica Guinn outlined fees in other neighboring cities.
In Chamblee, there is a $1,250 flat fee for events. The city of Johns Creek charges $3,000 for a nonprofit group to use its amphitheater and charges for-profit and commercial companies a $5,000 fee. The city of Roswell charges $1,200 for small events; $1,600 for large events; and a $2,000 flat fee for road races, with no more than 250 runners allowed. Surrounding cities also do not offer refundable deposits, she said.
In 2017 Brook Run Park was the site for 41 special events, totaling more than 30,500 people, and 87 private facility rentals. But the city only received about $32,000 in event rental fee revenue.
Of those special events, 34 were 5K races and walks. With the new fee schedule and limited use in place, the 5Ks would have been limited to 24 and not 34 events.
With capping crowds and hiking fees, the city wants to make city parks more user-friendly for local residents again and allows them to use the park without competing for space with special events, Walker said. Fewer events also means less traffic around local neighborhoods, he said.
The new fees do not include city-sponsored events, such as Movie on the Meadow or MLK Jr. Day of Service, nor do they include events such as Lemonade Days and Dunwoody Food Truck Thursdays, according to city officials.