Columbia County's newest rentable facilities have been a hit with the public, officials say, offering numbers to back up the claim.
"We really enjoy the fact that people like to use our facilities," said Sandy Boner, the county's Community Centers Department manager.
The performing arts center inside the new Columbia County Library opened in March, and the amphitheater behind the library went into use in April.
Boner said the amphitheater, performing arts center and memorial gardens have been the site of 91 events since their opening, including corporate meetings, children's theatrical performances, choral performances, church services, movies, concerts and financial and real estate seminars. Those 91 events attracted about 12,500 guests to the facilities.
Boner said once the restrooms at the amphitheater are completed, she expects even more interest in its rental.
"I think the restrooms will also help with the logistics of planning something, to tell everyone that you've actually got a concession area as well as restroom facilities right there on site. It is going to make things a little bit more appealing," Boner said, adding that the restroom building is under construction and could be open by Oct. 1.
The initial fee schedule for renting the Evans Town Center Field behind the Kroger in Evans was established along with a slight increase in some rental fees in May. Renting the field ensures that someone is responsible for the field activities in case of an emergency at public events.
Residents using the field for team practices or to play with their dog or remote control airplane will still be able to do so free.
"When it is very informal and you are just out there using it as a team or whatever, it is not such a big deal," Boner said. "But when you have an event with potential harm, they have got the barbecue grills and all that kind of stuff going on out there, we really need to have a person who is responsible for the event to go to in case of emergency."
The county's newest rentable facility - the building at Reed Creek Interpretive Park - is still under construction and is estimated to be completed in time for a November ribbon-cutting, Boner said.
Even though the building is not complete, Boner said she has already had contact with people interested in renting it.
Boner said the May fee increase of an average 18 percent on existing facilities has not deterred rentals. County facilities are the site of about 100 events per month, Boner said.
"The reaction that you get from the client, they are more concerned with availability than price," Boner said, adding that facilities are already booked through 2006 and dates are quickly filling up through the summer of 2007. "Our rates are still competitive with other facilities in the area."
Rentals tend to slow down around the holidays and during the summer because there are fewer meetings, Boner said.
"But by the second week of September, we'll be cooking again and we'll probably exceed that 100 events a month," Boner said.
To book a county facility, call Boner at (706) 868-3349.
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