Some visitors to Wildwood Park might soon have to pay a little extra to enter the facility.
The Columbia County Commission approved the first reading required for a fee increase Tuesday. A second and final reading for the fee increase will occur at the board's March 21 meeting. If approved, the new fees will take effect March 27.
The rate increase applies to special events vehicle passes and annual car, truck and motorcycle passes only, said Barry Smith, the county's director of community and leisure services.
The special event vehicle passes will increase in price from $2 to $5 and the annual vehicle pass will increase from $40 to $50, Smith said. All other entry pass fees will remain the same.
"The reason we raise the fees is during special activities it requires more staff to help park cars and it takes more staff to manage the event and maintain the park properly," Smith said. "So we're raising the fees to compensate the staffing cost to accommodate the events."
Smith said the annual vehicle fees were increased because they were too low considering how frequently pass holders were entering and using the facilities.
"We currently have 150 annual pass holders," Smith said, adding he did not expect the fee hike to decrease the number of annual pass holders.
The county's leisure and recreation services staff is anticipating 8,000 vehicles to enter the park for this year's marquee events, which include national and regional bass fishing tournaments, the Labor Day Lake Fest, a National Archery Association event and national and regional disc golf tournaments, Smith said.
Wildwood Park, which is the home of the Professional Disc Golf Association, also boasts more than 60 camp sites, miles of horseback riding trails, boat ramps, beach and picnic areas.
The amenities and special events offerings, Smith said, are well worth the price of admission.
"Wildwood is a diamond in the rough," he said.
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