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CHICO — The Chico Area Recreation and Park District Wednesday approved charging fees for reserving and renting picnic areas in district parks.

The new fees for larger and group picnic areas will help the special district recoup maintenance costs on those sites. The new system will allow the public to reserve a spot through the CARD office.

The new fees, all for four-hour stints, will mean groups of 1 to 50 people will pay $50; groups of 51 to 100 will pay $75; and 100 or more $100.

DeGarmo Park”s pavilion would be different because it can seat more and is a more developed facility. Set for four-hour stints as well, the fees will be 1 to 50 people for $100; 51 to 100 people for $150; 101 to 200 people for $200; and more than 200 people will be $250.

There also will be a $150 refundable security deposit and general liability insurance assessed for large events.

The issue came to a head as CARD is taking over a group of city-owned parks, which already have a reservation and rental system.

General Manager Steve Visconti said there have been a number of requests from the public to reserve specific sites, such as for a wedding reception or birthday party.

The proposal passed on a 4-1 vote, with director Ed Seagle voting against it. CARD directors held off taking a vote last month so that the public could have more time to comment on the fees. No one spoke at the Wednesday meeting, but Visconti said he”d gotten a call.

While the city doesn”t have such rules, CARD will not allow park users to bring their own barbecues because of liability to the district. CARD facilities are equipped with permanent barbecues that the public can use.

Directors were concerned that some private barbecues might not be safe, and could present a risk to park users, although director Jerry Hughes said there were no accounts of such incidents that he could find regarding state or national parks.

CARD will continue to offer its picnic areas on a first-come, first-served basis if they are not rented.

The fees will likely be put in place by April.

Visconti noted that fees already paid to the city by a group or organization to reserve Wildwood Park would be honored by CARD. Wildwood Park is among the city parks being handed over to CARD.

Staff writer Laura Urseny can be reached at 896-7756 or lurseny@chicoer.com.

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