The Wood County Park District is making rental changes at its facilities, from decorating guidelines to the cancellation policy.
The suggestions were made by park employees, said park Director Chris Smalley at the Nov. 14 board of commissioners meeting.
“I think that brings us forward to where the real market is with regards to how we’re operating … from the rental perspective,” said board President Tom Myers.
“I think it’s really time for some of these changes to take place,” he said.
Among the changes are the prohibition of glitter and confetti, rice, birdseed or flower petals. Nailing, stapling or taping decorations within the facility or on park property (including park signage and trees) is prohibited.
Use of helium and water balloons will continue to be prohibited, as will sidewalk chalk.
Cleanup of these items have become a problem, with an increase of artificial flower petals littering the lawns at Otsego Park. Hankison Great Room at W. W. Knight Preserve has recently been damaged by tape.
Bubbles, whistles and noisemakers were suggested as alternatives.
Failure to abide by these rules, causing damage or extensive cleanup for maintenance staff, will result in forfeiture of the deposit.
The cancellation policy was also changed.
Before, cancellations more than 14 days prior received a full refund minus a $5 processing fee. With the proposed new policy, if a cancellation notice is less than 30 days prior to the rental date, no refund of the fee or deposit will be made. If a notice is received more than 30 days but less than 60 days before the date, 50% of the rental fee will be returned. Full refunds, minus the service fee, will be given if a cancellation is made more than 60 days prior.
A service fee of $25 will be charged for any cancellations or date change.
According to the summary of changes, there have been a high number of cancellations each month and the halls are not always re-rented. There also have been incidents of people reserving multiple dates and cancelling all but one later.
Myers said he thinks the changes will allow for more rentals to occur.
“Our old policy was way more generous than any other rental facility we could find. The proposed policy is more in line with other rental facilities/park districts,” according to the summary.
Additional rules being added to the rental agreements include fundraising can only be conducted within a paid rental; facilities are not available for rental of Thanksgiving, Christmas Day or New Year’s Day; music should not be heard more than 50 feet from the source; outdoor weddings at W. W. Knight Preserve and Otsego Park will require a special use permit; no vehicles are permitted to park and/or drive on lawns or sidewalks, not even while unloading/loading equipment; a littering citation for any signs left in the park after an event will be issued and mailed to the person listed on the rental receipt; smoking and soliciting are not permitted indoors at any park facility; vehicles left parked overnight require a signed form from the park police officer whose name is on the check-in sheet; and in the event of a Level 3 snow emergency, all parks will be closed and reservations scheduled for that day will get full refunds.
Board member Rebecca Ferguson said it was helpful to learn why the changes were being made.
“I greatly appreciated that portion of the summary,” she said.
Smalley said they plan to implement the new rental guidelines in January and the last time there were any substantial changes was in 2008.
Proposals for rental rate changes which will be discussed at the December meeting.
Also at the meeting, the board:
• Received a draft of the 2024 operating budget, which will be voted on at the December meeting.
• Approved the employee manual update and the park police manual update.
• Approved a resolution to participate in Wood County’s new countywide computer-aided dispatch law enforcement records software agreement.
• Heard from Smalley that he should learn in the next week or two about the Clean Ohio Greenspace Conservation grant to purchase more than 30 acres and expand JC Reuthinger Memorial Preserve in Perrysburg Township.
The district raised $547,000 toward the $1.2 million purchase price and applied for the grant to make up the difference.
• Heard Candace Weis, president of the Friends of the Wood County Parks, report that members have gone through local newspapers looking for history on the parks and have started reviewing photographs.
They need help identifying some of the locations and people in the photos, she said.
“It’s going to be an outstanding project by the time we get done,” she said.
• Learned Bowling Green resident Hal Brown has been named National Association of Interpreters Volunteer of the Year.